The Organised Private Sector (OPS) in Nigeria has called for the designing and implementation of an exit strategy as a prelude to reopening the national economy.
In a proposal now before the Presidential Taskforce and other top administration officials ,the OPS observed that the current lockdown is in urgent need of review, submitting a wide range of proposals and ideas on crafting the exit strategy.
The President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode signed the proposal on behalf of concerned OPS members, stating that current strategies are not sustainable.
The full proposal is published below:
CALL FOR EXIT STRATEGY ON COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, REOPENING OF NATIONAL ECONOMY & PANDEMIC CONTAINMENT.
The organized Private Sector (OPS) and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry wishes to commend the efforts of the Government in the fight for containment of COVID-19 Pandemic.
We would like to draw the attention of the government to the urgent need to commence immediate plan for an exit strategy in review of the COVID-19 lockdown, and to reopen the national economy while we continue to proactively engage the Pandemic.
Attached are our recommendation
PROPOSAL FOR EXIT STRATEGY ON COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, REOPENING OF NATIONAL ECONOMY & PANDEMIC CONTAINMENT
The purpose of this proposal is, to on behalf of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), draw the attention of the government to the urgent need to commence immediate plan for an exit strategy in review of the COVID-19 lockdown as a prelude to reopening the national economy while we continue to proactively engage the pandemic.
The situation report from underprivileged grass root areas, city suburbs and inner city areas indicate increasing restlessness among those whose livelihood depends on daily pay or trading. It is agreed that the lockdown was occasioned by dire need to contain the pandemic. But by now, the conclusion of the third week of the lockdown, there are urgent calls for the designing of an exit strategy. This is expected to combine the continuation of procedures to contain and reduce further spread of the pandemic as well as reducing the present serious socio-economic problems facing the populace.
The current total lockdown in most states of the country is becoming unsustainable as resistance from the poor will continue to grow especially within the suburbs and city slum settlements where majority of the population resides. South Africa and Brazil, are typical examples. While our motive remain to support government’s efforts to keep the people safe, we are convinced that preserving the livelihoods of the citizenry should also be a critical part of that pandemic action plan.
Several countries are already designing such exit strategies, with an eye on safety and sustenance of economic livelihoods. Please note that several studies of response to the pandemic have shown that, in developing countries, continuous total lockdown as a virus containment strategy, maybe ineffective and counterproductive. This is largely due to the twin evil of slum life poverty, and creeping starvation. When hunger hits too hard, the masses that live on a day to day basis, will break the lockdown. Then we will not be able to control them.
DESIGN EXIT STRATEGY
We recommend the setting up of a frame work on an exit strategy for the gradual opening of the economy which will include representatives of NACCIMA, MAN and other OPS.
RELAXATION OF LOCKDOWN
The mandate of the PTF committee should include designing smart and phased opening up and relaxation of the lockdown from the 27th of April 2020 and the announcement of smart exit strategies as quickly as possible.
ADOPTION OF COVID 19 TRACKING AND TRACING TECHNOLOGIES
We urge the Federal Government and indeed the States to adopt a technology driven COVID – 19 Tracking System. This will make tracking, tracing and identification easier. The technology is readily, available and is already being used in Africa, India, South Korea, China etc.
We also wish to urge the Nigeria Immigration Service to give maximum support to the CDC and the States Committees in the effort to track persons who arrived in Nigeria from January to March 2020 for testing and screening.
SUPPLY & MANDATORY USE OF FACE MASK IN PUBLIC
The PTF and Ministry of Trade should ACTIVELY support massive production and free distribution of sanitizer and face masks for MANDATORY USE in public and other designated places.
We support mandatory use of face masks and permit use of scarves or any cloth where there is no face mask in public places, public transport, market places, open places etc. and; enlisting the support and buy-in of the NURTW and Market officials etc, to enforce MANDATORY use of face mask or covering for mouth and nose and using hand sanitizers just before entering any public transport.
ENFORCEMENT OF SOCIAL (PHYSICAL) DISTANCING
The authorities must lead by example in enforcing social distancing. This is very important as the perception is that Government officials are not really serious about this regulation. Let us all please work to change this perception.
We strongly recommend that places of worship, schools, large markets and social gatherings and international borders remain closed until the situation is further reviewed; and such review should be every two weeks, depending on the circumstances.
APPROVAL OF CURATIVE DRUGS
We urge the acceleration of the determination of curative drugs by NAFDAC, for treatment of the virus. The COVID 19 may end up being with us for a long time, like malaria. So the earlier we approve a curative drug, the better.
RESTRUCTURE POLICE ( SECURITY) DEPLOYMENT
We commend the Police, Civil Defence, and Road Safety for their efforts in the enforcement and control of movement during the lockdown.
We request that 50% of police currently deployed to the inner city road blocks be urgently redeployed to protect shops, malls, markets, offices and residential areas.
This will help forestall, mass action, riots, looting and breakdown of law and order, when we begin to, feel the impact of the lockdown and when the economic down turn bites harder on the masses. (South Africa and Brazil are clear examples).
HANDLE DISTRIBUTION OF PALLIATIVES WITH ALL SERIOUSNESS AND TRANSPARENCY
The stimulus and palliatives being provided by the states and the federal government is a great initiative. We urge the government to implement the distribution of these palliatives fairly and appropriately.
We suggest that the Federal Government engages with the Governors’ Forum to immediately review the casual way the distribution of palliatives and stimulus for the general populace is currently being handled everywhere, by both levels of government.
We suggest the adoption of household distribution through the POLLING UNITs of all the Wards in our LGAs. This must now be the basis for verifiable and transparent method for social distribution of welfare.”