President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday announced the shutdown of Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ogun State with a view to containing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a nationwide broadcast, the president said: “Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11:00 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two states.
“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.”
The president said government would use the “containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.”
He however listed some exceptions. These are hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organisations in health care related manufacturing and distribution; commercial establishments such as food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities; power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies.
He stressed: “Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff, who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.”
The president said: “All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. The Ports Health Authority will thoroughly screen vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these ports to other parts of the country before departure.
“Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.
“Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.”
He also ordered the suspension of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, noting that special permits will be issued on a needs basis.
Announcing a string of palliatives, Buhari “directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.
He also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
“For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.
“For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks,” the president said.
“For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks,” he explained.
He further “instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The minister will be contacting the affected states and agree on detailed next steps.”
Admitting that the measures will cause “much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens,” the president warned: “This is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.
“However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.
“As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.”
Also, Ekiti Governor Kayode Fayemi yesterday imposed a 14-day dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state beginning Monday, March 30.
The governor said the measure was taken in urgent public interest, to ensure strict compliance with all directives for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who violates the order risks a six-month jail term, Fayemi disclosed in a broadcast yesterday.
Fayemi warned that the virus “has the potential to overwhelm our health infrastructure, cripple our economy and devastate Ekiti State in unimaginable proportions.”
He said during the period, movement between local governments is prohibited; movement between towns, villages and communities is also prohibited; every person shall also be confined to the place where he or she resides.
He noted: “All businesses and other entities shall cease operations during this period except those involved in the provision of essential goods or services. Markets, retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold and with strict hygienic conditions to prevent the exposure of persons to COVID-19.”