President Muhammadu Buhari

By M. Peter, Jos

A Civil Society Organisation,Equity International Initiative has urged the federal and state governments to explore other options to contain the spread of COVID-19 disease saying that locking down the Nigerian economy is no longer a sustainable option.

The argument is that the nation’s economy had been on its knees before the outbreak of the disease and shutting it down for a long period would definitely have serious negative economic impacts on government and citizens.

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Speaking at a press conference on Saturday in Jos, officials of the organization including the chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Plateau state, Yakubu Bawa; an activist, Steve Aluko and the Country Director of Equity International Initiative, Chris Iyama frowned at the extended lockdown saying that putting citizens in such situation without sustainable alternative could bring consequences worse than the disease.

The NBA Chairman particularly noted that, “Coronavirus may not kill some people but definitely, hunger virus would kill some people. This is something our leaders should think about and strategize so that we can open up the economy for business without endangering the lives of citizens.”

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He decried the various human rights abuses by law enforcement agents in the course of ensuring compliance with the lockdown in the different parts of the country as well the lack of access to lawyers by citizens who are being tried in the various COVID-19 mobile courts saying such was unacceptable even as he urged citizens whose rights are abused to reach out to the NBA for assistance.

Lockdown, no longer a sustainable option - CSO tells FG Officials of the Equity International Initiatives.

Also, Steve Aluko added that, “We can’t continue to lock up the economy in perpetuity unless you want to crumble the economy which was not even in a good shape before COVID-19. Open the system and ensure measures that would safeguard the lives of the people are in place. The economy is driven by the informal sector, this must be considered, open up the economy so that people can earn a living because if care is not taken, criminality would take over communities.”

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“It is important that people are actively engaged, the palliative process must be transparent and a functional healthcare system must be put in place. The best tribute President Buhari should give to late Abba Kyari is to have effective healthcare system.”

Inyama on his part raised concerns about the COVID-19 donations, palliatives and accountability in the processes and urged citizens to ask questions so that those in charge do not end up enriching themselves at the expense of the vulnerable citizens and warned against discrimination based on whatever sentiment in the distribution of palliatives.

According to him, “We don’t have credible data in the country, how do we determine the poorest of the poor? Who are those benefiting from the palliatives? Exactly how much has been donated? When and how are the monies going to be spent? Nigerians must ask questions and answers must be provided by the authority. There must be equity in sharing the palliatives not based on certain sentiments. We need to try local alternatives in the fight against COVID-19 and not just lock up the economy.”