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HomeBusinessFresh Lockdown Will Trigger Mass Hunger, Economic Crisis, OPS Warn

Fresh Lockdown Will Trigger Mass Hunger, Economic Crisis, OPS Warn

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By Babajide Okeowo

Members of the Organised Private Sector, OPS including the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned the Federal Government that another COVID-19 induced lockdown would unleash hunger and malnutrition on Nigerians while worsening Nigeria’s economic crisis.

The Director-General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, in an interview with one of The Punch’s correspondents disclosed that a fresh lockdown in the country will be counterproductive, worsen the food crisis and the country might not be able to easily recover.

“So, we may not be able to easily recover from another round of lockdown. I think the position government should adopt is that we should recommit to even ensuring stricter implementation and enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols such that industries are not locked down and they are able to continue to produce and make their products available in the market. The food crisis that will emerge from another lockdown could be better imagined” he stated.

He added, “I think the new wave of the COVID-19 infection is actually quite worrisome. While one must recognise that we need to be healthy to be able to work, there is the need to keep the economy afloat, and this consideration should mean that we need to be circumspective in terms of what the long-term plans are to deal with the virus”.

On its part, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry advised the Federal Government against locking down the economy regardless of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the chamber, another lockdown will deepen the economic recession across the country and destroy businesses.

The President of the ACCI, Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, in another interview, said the chamber was aware of the second wave of COVID-19 and had followed with keen interest efforts of the PTF to curtail the new outbreak.

“We, however, strongly appeal to the government not to embark on another lockdown. An economy in a recession cannot in anyway withstand another lockdown.

A second lockdown will deepen the recession and further destroy businesses that are just recovering from the lockdown.

Our suggestion to government, which is also generally shared by the organised private sector, is for the government at all levels to enforce the COVID-19 safety protocols” Abubakar stated,

On his part, The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the government should allow economic activities to continue as much as possible.

“The economy is already very weak; the problem of unemployment is serious. The poverty situation is getting worse, and the only way we can fix some of these things is to allow economic activities to pick up because this is not a problem that palliatives measures can solve, given the structure of our economy.

We have an economy that is almost 50 per cent informal – they live on daily economic activity. So, it should be the last resort, if at all. I think what is important is to ensure that we scale up the non-pharmaceutical measures’ he posited.

Recall that the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, on Sunday said the Federal Government was considering all options, including lockdown, to battle the second wave of COVID-19.

Aliyu, who lamented rising COVID-19 cases in the country, said the virus has infected 6,000 people in the last one week, while 33 deaths were recorded due to the disease during the same period.

According to him, Nigerians can avoid another lockdown if they adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures, including wearing of face masks and hand washing.

Recall that the Federal Government first imposed lockdown on Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory on April 27, 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The lockdown, which started with the first phase in April ended with the third phase in July.

However, the PTF on December 17 said the country had entered COVID-19 second wave of the virus with a surge in the infection and deaths resulting from it.

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