Shortage of meals looms over COVID-19 lockdown

Women carrying nostril masks to guard themselves from coronavirus in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

• Careless shutdown will trigger bother, senate president warns
• NMA seeks stay-at-home order, FG plans ban on inter-state travels
• UBA to supply N5 billion for COVID-19 aid help in Africa

Millions of Nigerians could also be caught between a rock and a tough place, ought to federal and state authorities shut down the nation in a determined bid to comprise the coronavirus illness (COVID-19).

To adequately rein within the pandemic, well being officers urge individuals to remain indoors. It is a transfer that has witnessed abandoned streets in a number of elements of the world, as governments implement curfews. Unlike developed nations, nonetheless, the Nigerian society is wired otherwise. A chronic stay-at-home, for greater than half the inhabitants, may imply an invite to hunger.

“Nigeria is not prepared at all for food security during a lockdown,” warned Prof. Kolawole Adebayo. Should there be a lockdown, meals would turn out to be the brand new drawback added to COVID-19, he mentioned.

A farm extension specialist on the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) and former African Coordinator of the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (CAVA) tasks, Adebayo famous: “Variables are many and have all been neglected for too long. When last did we update our strategic food reserves and what was the basis of acquiring the foods stored? Is there a match between population distribution and strategic location of food reserves? Did we consider the security of the food reserves and the road, rail air and water transport necessary to move food around when locating the food reserves? The state of our infrastructure is terrible. Did we take heed and fix them? No!”

Just one month of lockdown will pose an enormous problem to the inhabitants, mentioned Dr Richardson Okechukwu, a cassava breeding and manufacturing professional on the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). He defined that whereas wage earners would possibly be capable of replenish on meals (in the event that they receives a commission), day by day earners would face a uncooked deal.

Prof. Damian Chikwendu is a former coordinator of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) Nigeria and Team Lead of Cultivating New Frontier in Agriculture (CNFA). He advised The Guardian: “If there is a lockdown, how would farmers get seeds? Breeder seeds and certified seeds come from research institutes and seed companies. Getting all the inputs at the right time would be a problem.”

The regional coordinator of Africa Rice Centre, IITA, Ibadan, Dr Francis Nwilene, faulted the leasing of strategic grain reserve services and urged authorities to construct infrastructure for agriculture reminiscent of dams, extra storage services for emergencies like COVID-19 and enhance rice manufacturing for export, particularly now that oil value is crashing.

A former chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria in Oyo State, Mr. John Olateru, mentioned the closure of faculties was already affecting egg producers as a result of gross sales had plummeted. He mentioned a lockdown would impression negatively on transportation and distribution of farm produce. He added: “Can Nigeria afford salary bonuses for every salary earner like the United States of America? Can we afford other packages being done by some of the locked down countries?”

This was as Senate President Ahmad Lawan cautioned that except the Federal Government supplied palliatives for poor Nigerians, a complete lockdown may stoke issues.

“I’m not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake up trouble, because the majority of our citizens go to the market everyday before they can get something to eat,” he mentioned, following a gathering between the management of the National Assembly and a few ministers and heads of presidency businesses in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to an announcement by Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate Ezrel Tabiowo, Lawan mentioned: “So, you lock them up of their homes with a menace of illness and with out meals…We have to have one thing, a plan of some types, along with ensuring we don’t lock up the farmers’ market, for instance, the place individuals can simply go and purchase one thing, and, in fact, pharmacies.

“We need to have some kind of supplies for people. I don’t know how we can achieve this, but we have to be ingenious. This is a time to think deep and wide, to provide for our people, in order for us, at least, to deal with this challenge at the moment.”

Lawan mentioned additional: “Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time, because it is really taking a toll on our lives. If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people. As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people.”

The Senate President additionally urged the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to determine extra testing and isolation centres, as quickly because the Federal Government releases extra funds to it. He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning will oversight the NCDC on the strict software of the N6.5 billion to be launched for the battle in opposition to COVID-19.

Similarly, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), in an announcement by its president, Ken Ukaoha, in Abuja yesterday appealed to the federal government “to consider further palliatives in the face of prevalent strangulating economic conditions staring at the poor informal traders and others in the SMEs bracket.”

It mentioned: “The combined effects of tripod turbulence presently facing traders must be strongly considered so that the nation’s economy would still find a way to stand on her feet without sinking into another recession.”

Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu (second proper); Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Tunji Disu and different officers going spherical markets and shops to make sure compliance with authorities directive in opposition to the unfold of the COVID-19 in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

The affiliation referred to as for “waivers for producers and importers of pharmaceutical products and medicaments or medical consumables, tax holidays for SMEs and local manufacturers across board; removal of all bank charges throughout the period of the COVID-19 induced vacation; and direct the allocation of forex to genuine importers of essential products or local manufacturers of food items, through the involvement of credible national associations.”

Also, a growth economist, Chiwuike Uba, mentioned it will be troublesome to compel Nigerians to remain at house with out palliatives. According to him, “there is a need for action beyond the issuance of statements and orders. More so, it is difficult for people to comply with these orders when there are no palliative measures. People are already hungry and battling with bills.”

But the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) insisted President Muhammadu Buhari should challenge an government order to implement compliance with the stay-at-home directive for non-essential employees.

NMA President Francis Faduyile made the decision at a information convention in Abuja yesterday.

He mentioned: “We are observing with dismay that some state governments are vacillating on the closure of schools and banning social and religious gatherings, basking in the euphoria that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their states. NMA demands uniformity in implementing the lockdown orders on non-essential services. We therefore call on Buhari to issue an executive order to enforce compliance.”

The Federal Government additionally mentioned it was contemplating stopping inter-state and inter-town travels, apart from important companies in a bid to cease the unfold of COVID-19.

At a media briefing on measures taken by authorities to deal with the pandemic, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed mentioned: “We are considering tougher measures to stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimise spread. The possible measures include stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services and closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all train movements nationwide have been stopped. We are also considering using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns.”

The minister warned: “We have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.”

He famous: “We have taken very bold measures in stopping international flights into the country. We hail the state governments that have taken equally bold measures in their states, which include the closure of markets and the prohibition of large congregations. However, we are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.”

Mohammed, who mentioned Buhari is “well, kicking and in charge,” disclosed that the federal government is tracing 4,370 individuals of curiosity and urged individuals who’ve had contact with suspected circumstances to report back to well being officers.

Also, in an announcement signed by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Garba Shehu, yesterday, the president praised the efforts of all Nigerians working to comprise the pandemic and referred to as for extra compliance with laws and restrictions.

He notably extolled state governments, non secular our bodies, well being employees, Federal Government businesses, together with safety outfits, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria for rising to the event to guard the nation and its residents, assuring that the federal government would stay steadfast in deploying extra assets to minimize the burden of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) yesterday introduced a donation of over N5 billion (USD14 million), via the UBA Foundation, to catalyse a complete pan-African response to the battle in opposition to the pandemic.

The donation will present important and much-needed help to Nigeria and 19 different African nations by supplying aid supplies, crucial care services, and monetary help to governments.

The UBA help programme will likely be allotted as follows: N1 billion (USD2.eight million) to Lagos State Government in Nigeria; N500 million (USD1.Four million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; N1 billion (USD2.eight million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria; N1.5 billion (USD4.2 million) to UBA’s presence nations in Africa; N1 billion (USD2.eight million) for medical centres with tools and provides; and free telemedicine name centre facility.

The pan-African financial institution may also fund a medical centre instantly in Lagos, Nigeria, with beds for isolation and ICU services, managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings’ healthcare subsidiary, Avon Medical Hospital.

“This is a time when we must all play our part. This global pandemic must bring citizens, governments and business leaders together – and quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria and Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various governments in stemming the spread of the global pandemic,” mentioned UBA Group Chairman Tony O. Elumelu.

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