COVID-19: The Hunger Challenge As Imminent Lockdown Looms in Nigeria

COVID-19: The Hunger Challenge As Imminent Lockdown Looms in Nigeria

As coronavirus continues to spread with devastating impact, every country in the world is rolling out measures to quell the surge. Among the measures are social distancing and locking down cities and towns.

The Italian government is distributing a video clip showing how much havoc the pandemic has wreaked in the country, urging every other country not to allow their cases to spread to that degree. One measure they recommended is ‘lockdown’ of cities and ‘restriction’ of movement. So far, there are 277,310 cases and counting worldwide, with Italy taking the highest share of the casualties, the country has ordered every single individual to stay at home.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended ‘stay at home’ and many countries are buying it.

However, these measures don’t come easy as they commit people to homes and deny them the opportunity to earn a living. Knowing this, governments around the world are making provision for the sustenance of citizens during this time.

The UK has announced that if a national shutdown happens, all workers will get 80% of their salaries during the time they stay at home. Canada was the foremost to unveil a robust quarantine assistance program, to enable its citizens to comply with the stay at home directive.

El Salvador has cancelled rent bills, water bills, internet bills, electricity bills and phone bills for the next three months for its citizens. These are few among other personal care initiatives that governments around the world are taking in the quest to contain the outbreak in their respective countries.

Africa was envied at the onset as the only continent that appears immune to the pandemic due to its limited cases. But that is rapidly changing. Over 600 cases resulting in over 20 deaths have been so far recorded in Africa, instigating fear that the continent is about to feel the full weight of the scourge.

Most African countries are now taking measures to halt the spread including limiting large gatherings. And the most populous among them, Nigeria is not an exception.

After many states in Nigeria announced the closure of schools and religious activities, the Federal Government said it has closed all international airports in the countries. The railway service has also announced that it is shutting down operation until further notice. Nigeria has recorded 10 new cases, seven in Lagos and three in Abuja, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 22. And the way it’s going, Nigerians are afraid that the numbers may skyrocket overnight and the country doesn’t have the health infrastructure to contain the proliferation.

Governments are under pressure to initiate lockdown in a bid to limit the speed of the spread from contacts, but there is a major challenge: “How would Nigerians survive a lockdown”? is a question many keep asking. Larger number of the population depend on their daily income to feed, and the Nigerian government, unlike others that made ‘stay at home’ provision, appears to have no austerity plan for people in that category.

A vulcanizer was asked if he would stay at home on the order of the government, and his answer was “no, I would rather die of coronavirus than hunger.” And that’s the sentiment an average person in Nigeria is expressing toward the possibility of a lockdown.

It portrays a possible faceoff situation between the governments and the people if a lockdown order is announced in Nigeria. Full compliance with such an order will depend not on the government’s determination to contain coronavirus but on people’s ability to endure hunger. They said coronavirus is deadly but hunger is deadlier.

Having foreseen the likely controversy that will ensue upon the attempt by Nigerian government to implement ‘stay at home’ order, experts have advised the government to facilitate modalities that will ease the pains the lockdown will induce, especially hunger.

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