By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has warned of the consequences of extending the COVID-19 lockdown beyond 14 days without proper palliative measures, urging the Federal and State Governments to make provisions for food and other basic necessities if extension would be required.
In a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the CNPP also drew the attention of the federal government to the need to support local production of medical equipment and drugs to manage the Coronavirus pandemic rather than depending on the Chinese government for equipment and personal protective gears.
“When the federal government announced a 14-day lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States as part of measures aimed at containing the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, we were fully in support of the efforts.
“We supported the initiative by President Muhammadu Buhari after his broadcast to the nation because the government had a palliative plan for citizens during the period.
“However, the events of last few days have clearly shown that the government at both the federal and state levels were totally as unprepared to mitigate the pains of the lockdown as Nigerians themselves.
“Having closely monitored the distribution of palliative packages, including federal government’s conditional cash transfer, we are totally disappointed that the citizens have continued to endure pains and hardships, including severe hunger, in hope that the pandemic will be contained within the 14 days of lockdown.
“But we are shocked by insinuations from the federal and state governments of possible extension of the lockdown and we warn that any extension of the COVID-19 lockdown may meet a brick wall if the shoddy soothing of the pains of citizens occasioned by hunger was not addressed.
“We are afraid that from the fillers we are getting, the masses may resort to civil disobedience in event of extension of the lockdown, which may make enforcement of the order very difficult. As they say, a hungry man is an angry man.
“More are more Nigerians have exhausted their little provisions and food stuff and keeping them at home longer than 14 days in the manner many citizens have endured in the last one week will be extremely difficult, particularly with most members of the population depending on daily incomes to survive.
“We also urge the federal government to look inward for procurement of basic equipment and protective gears for medical personnel as we continue to confront the COVID-19 infection.
“We have, in the last one week, received the news of Nigerians producing the much needed face masks in Aba, Abia State and we strongly urge the federal and state governments to support such local manufacturing of disposables as other countries of the world also need same preventive kits.
“Nigeria is well endowed with capable medical personnel and the invitation of the Chinese to help us combat the coronavirus pandemic is more like passing a vote of no confidence on the Nigerian medical professionals, no matter how the government explain it.
“One lesson we must learn from the coronavirus disease experience is that it’s high time we heavily invested in our national and state healthcare system.
“We have seen that medical tourism has failed as nations have shut down their borders and airspace to control the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. We must now support local production of healthcare equipment as we urge the government to rejig Nigeria’s medical architecture”, the CNPP stated.