“DON’T EXTEND LOCK-DOWN” – ALNET URGE PRESIDENT BUHARI (OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI)
Dear President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR,
Your Excellency sir, please accept our condolences following the death of your chief of staff (COS) late Abba Kyari. We understand the death of a close aide, confidant and reliable friend can be devastating much more at a time like this for a sitting President.
The late COS died in the line of duty for our motherland; his efforts and contributions will never be forgotten. We pray God grants the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
We are known as ALNET which is the acronym for “AFRICAN LEADERSHIP NETWORK FOR YOUTHS”. A non-governmental organization with a vision to raise youths who’ll inspire change, drive innovation, steer entrepreneurial revolution and accept leadership responsibility for nation building.
Sir, we want to use this opportunity to thank you for being so proactive in putting the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 together. The country has never recorded such a coordinated leadership in recent years and we’re proud of all that you’re doing.
It is pertinent to state that this letter is in no way intended to achieve any cynical interest of any kind. We also do not wish to gain any sort of publicity by making this of public consumption, it is the only means we have to render our contribution towards tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Evidently the corona virus pandemic has come to alter the course of the world and by extension Nigeria. The reality before the world is that our lifestyle has been altered and it’ll will NO LONGER be the same.…. at least for a period of time.
The Covid-19 situation is first of its kind to the global community with no precedence hence everyone is groping in the dark trying to find a way out. Everything is happening so fast, the global economy is crashing; our aspirations seem to be nose-diving by the day.
We’re perturbed with deep concerns just like many Nigerians who are patriotic to the development of this nation. It becomes very necessary to add more voices to the existing cacophony of voices and torrent of constructive criticisms unheard in every nook and cranny expressing their fears for the economy of our nation, Nigeria.
Your Excellency, before going further please permit me to quickly draw your attention to some common facts. For the past few weeks, we have observed, carefully followed the Covid-19 pandemic situation and related events happening around the world.
So far the response pattern seems to be the same (LOCKDOWN); the reason for the LOCKDOWN is also the same (to curtail the spread of corona virus).
Sir, you’ll recall that Nigeria recorded her first (index) case of Covid-19 on February 27, 2020; the first two weeks LOCKDOWN was introduced / enforced on March, 31 2020 (33days later).
As at when the first two weeks lockdown was enforced (March 31, 2020) the total cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria is stated below:
128-ACTIVE (on admission)
As at that time, only 12 states (including FCT) has recorded one or more cases of Covid-19. On the global stage, the total cases of Covid-19 as recorded on March 31, 2020 are:
As at the time of writing this letter (April 24, 2020), the total cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria is: 1095-CONFIRMED, 208-DICHARCGED, 32-DEATHS, 26-STATES AFFECTED (including the FCT).
On the global stage, the total cases of Covid-19 are: 2,544,792-CONFIRMED, 175,694-DEATHS, 210-COUNTRIES AFFECTED. In US alone over 50,000-DEATHS have been recorded despite the lockdown.
There’s the school of thought who argue that the lockdown may not have really helped to curtail the spread as we’re made to believe. There are those who also believe Covid-19 is not as powerful as lassa fever and other pandemics that have existed before now.
There are those also who believe the virus may have been in existence before and that the recent pandemic may just be an experiment to see how fast/quick it can be to cripple the global economy.
Depending on which side of the equation one belongs, the obvious is that the only mission Covid-19 has is NOT to kill as we’re made to believe but to CRIPLLE THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.
Your Excellency sir, it is worthy of note that every country where Covid-19 has registered its ugly presence between March 31st, 2020 and now has been under one form of lockdown whether partial or total.
In Nigeria, virtually every state is also on lockdown taking queue from the FCT, LAGOS & OGUN. While we appreciate your efforts, courage to enforce these lockdowns, we cannot be blind to the damaging effect on our economic and the unbearable hardship this has brought to our people.
The UNDENIABLE reality is that our economy is still very fragile just coming out of the 2016 recession. The economy was just trying to find its root to gain balance and now we’re bedeviled by this ugly pandemic.
Having been on lockdown for nearly one month, Sir it is time for us to take another look at the strategy. Yes we may have recorded some successes but we have also lost far more than the gains of the lockdown strategy.
As a Nation considered a home to some of the poorest people in the world, we can’t continue to shutdown the economy and force people to stay at home. As a nation, our economy was expected to grow by 2% in the year 2020; at the moment the global economy forecast indicates the world economy will go down by at least 2%. We can see the efforts your administration is putting to avoid a possible recession.
The government cannot continue to give out palliatives; its something we just cannot sustain for too long. Sooner or later, we have to tow the hard way which at the moment is the ONLY WAY.
The purpose of this letter is to draw your attention once again to the reality the Covid-19 has brought to humanity. Our ways of living will have to change and that we cannot avoid that at the moment. We’ll be forced to accept some abnormalities as the new norms.
It doesn’t matter how long you lockdown movement, force people to stay at home or shutdown the economy, the virus will always be there. We’ll be forced to move on with life at some point; and the earlier we do it the better for us as a Nation.
Every government of the world seems to be carried away by the immediate danger of Covid-19; very few are thinking of the challenges that may come post-Covid-19.
Your Excellency, we must give you credit for thinking ahead of time in setting up the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) in 2016; none of your predecessors could think in that direction and we applaud you for the foresight.
Regardless of the shortcomings of the N-SIP, more than 2.6million disadvantaged Nigerians have been captured thus far in the project. As a nation with over 170million people, we must admit we do not yet have a very strong social welfare programs both at the Federal and State levels.
The people in the villages sometimes depend on the kindness of their extended families in the city for their livelihood. Nigerians in towns and cities depend on their daily wages or salaries to survive. The fortunate few depend on family members who send money from overseas.
As of today, due to the stay at home orders, the sources of income for many have dried up and consequently, there is increased hunger, anger, frustration and fear of what the future holds. Despite the efforts of your government to alleviate the hardship, everyone is stretched emotionally, physically, financially and the appeals for help from Nigerians to fellow Nigerians is on the rise daily.
The religious bodies, NGOs who may have been standing in gap for the government may soon run out of supplies.
Every passing day, we witness unbearable anger and frustration being vented towards the government. Hope for the common man is fast eroding, the religious centers which serve as place of spiritual succor in times of depression are equally closed.
Sir, I know these are difficult times for you as the leader of one of the most complex nations on earth. We have observed that the body language of the NCDC, the PTF and some governors is geared towards further extension of the lockdown.
While these may sound like voices of reasoning, the reality is that our ECONOMY is on the BRINK of another RECESSION and the buck will eventually stop at the desk of the president.
Gradually people living in our cities are coming to terms with wearing of face masks, washing of hands and the use of alcohol based sanitizers. To this end we suggest you take the bull by the horn, put some measures, laws and policies in place so the citizens can go back to work.
Mr. President any call for a renewed extension of the lockdown will bring unbearable pressure on the people, the Commander in chief (You), the government and the economy.
Nigerians agree with you on an initial lockdown of two weeks and the unavoidable extension which will elapse by Monday April 27, 2020. At this point everyone is stretched beyond limit hence we want to appeal for alternatives ways to tackle the spread of Covid-19 at the same time get the economy running.
Below are some of the measures for your consideration;
1. INCREASE TESTING FACILITIES- States to collaborate with the FG to increase daily testing capacity. We need to immediately contact Abbott medical device company of USA and place order for the Covid-19 test device that can return positive result in less than 15mins. If possible ten of such device per LGA.
2. COMPULSORY USE OF FACE MASK- Outside our homes
3. ENFORCE SOCIAL DISTANCING- Banks, Offices, Religious and Business places must follow rules.
4. RESTRUCTURE PUBLIC OFFICES- Civil service and other offices should not accommodate more than 3-4 persons with a minimum 10meters gap.
5. COMPULSORY WASHING OF HANDS & USE OF SANITIZERS- For public buildings, malls, markets, religious places etc.
6. REVIEW TRANSPORTATION POLICY- Public transports vehicles e.g Vans, 18 seater / Mini Buses, salon cars to only carry two persons in a row. Tricycles must only take two persons behind. FG and States much collaborate with ride-hailing transportation companies’ e.g Uber, Bolt, Pick-me-up etc. These should be the only approved means of transportation in major cities across the country. This will also create millions of job opportunity for youths including graduates.
7. AIRPORTS, SEAPORTS SCREENING- everyone including politicians and government officials must be screened before entering the country or any states.
8. Any person with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should be taken into isolation immediately. All Hospitals / health centers must be compelled to report similar cases to NCDC or risk termination of operational license.
9. SCREEN / DISINFECT IMPORTED GOODS
10. DISINFECT PUBLIC PLACES- Governors must be compelled to disinfect public places around their states. LGA Chairmen must be compelled to promote and maintain a clean and healthy environment.
11. NO MORE LOUNGES, CLUBS, PUBLIC BARS, EAT-IN RESTAURANTS- All purchases of foods and drinks should be for take-home only.
12. AGREESIVE PUBLICITY- The ministry of information must come out of defense mode at this time; there are a lot of government efforts / activities that are not in the public domain. ALL forms of Advert media (Billboards, paper media, online, TV and radio jingles should be on-going across the country). People in the rural / remote communities should be able to know all that government is doing at least via radio. The Covid-19 awareness campaign must be on the highest radar.
13. INCREASE POWER SUPPLY- At a time when unemployment is at the highest, many Nigerians can subsistently survive by working from home. Some of our DISCOS do not have the capacity (both man power and equipment) to distribute power effectively. You generate about 10,000 MGW yet less than 5,000 is distributed. Withdraw the licenses of any disco performing below terms of Contract.
14. DECLARE A STATE OF EMMERGENCY ON OUR HEALTH AND POWER SECTORS:
15. INCREASE SECURITY CHECK / SCREENING FOR OUR LAND BORDERS.- Anyone coming into the country using our land borders must be quarantined for at least 14days.
Your Excellency, we understand there maybe need to use executive orders to achieve some of the recommendations above. The UNDENIABLE is that you’ll not only be able to curtail the pandemic but also alleviate the poverty for millions of Nigerians and get the economy running while you increase your efforts on Agricultural reforms.
Thank you sir for the rare privilege
May God give you more wisdom and strength to continue to pilot the affairs of our great Nation.
God bless the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live the federal republic of Nigeria.
Convener- AFRICAN LEADERSHIP NETWORK FOR YOUTHS
April 25, 2020