SPECIAL REPORT: As COVID-19 shut downs Africa’s largest economy
NEWS DIGEST – The coronavirus has given a new view to Africa. According to statistics, over 400,000 persons worldwide have been affected by the pandemic, which every country in the world is trying to find a solution and cure for.
Already, a number of countries around the world have shut down their economy.
Italy, United Kingdom, and United States of America, among others, have been badly hit.
In Africa, countries have begun to feel the impact of the Covid-19 virus, which emanated from China and has hit many nations across the world.
For Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa and most populous black country in the world, this is just an emerging situation.
After the unnamed Italian brought the virus to the country, Nigeria has recorded 51 cases as at the time of this report. Out of the 51, two persons have recovered while one death has been recorded.
Despite the increasing number of cases, the country still suffers from rising cases of pessimism among the citizens, as some of them believe the virus is yet to arrive the shores of the country.
Popular musician, Naira Marley, had posted on his Twitter handle, that number of those who do not believe the virus exists should retweet his post.
Although his comments got a backlash, his reaction is similar to some Nigerians this reporter chatted with despite rising awareness campaign by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
At a garage in Ilorin, a woman who did not want her name in print said, “only those who do not know what they carry will be scared of coronavirus,” as this reporter advised her on strict adherence to health guidelines issued by NCDC.
It is distressing to note that some transporters have continued to allow six persons sit in vehicles meant for four, amid social distancing campaigns.
States in total lockdown
Already, Lagos had announced a restriction of movement as part of shutting down the State, including telling civil servants to work from home.
Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital and has the highest number of this virus so far.
Schools, airports and other critical institutions have been shut amid concerns over the sustenance of people’s livelihood in the ‘State of Acquatic Splendour’.
Residents who spoke to this reporter expressed skepticism about curbing the movements of people.
A resident who simply identified himself as Segun, noted that before the lockdown nothing much had changed in Lagos.
“Lagos is a state where people only survive form daily hustling. So, it is not strange that people still go about their normal businesses despite coronavirus,” he noted.
Another state that has taken the bold step of locking down is Kano State.
Despite not having the virus, the state has closed all its borders.
Kwara, Kogi, Rivers and many other States have adopted the total lockdown initiative, with Niger State imposing a curfew from 5pm to 8am daily.
There are rising tensions in the country ,especially after the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, Abba Kyari was diagnosed of the dreaded virus.
Kyari reportedly travelled to Germany on an official assignment, and soon contracted it.
There are fears he may have spread it to many other people in the Villa.
The son of a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, also tested positive to the virus, while Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, is now a COVID19 patient.
This is coming as the increasing high profile cases pitch citizens against the government.
Citizen show less empathy for sick leaders
Nigerians have taken to Twitter to condemn the healthcare system of the country, noting that the outbreak of the virus should be an eye-opener for its ‘corrupt and selfish’ leaders.
This is as the country’s elites cannot jet out for treatment oversea, while poor medical facilities threaten to hinder efforts to curb the coronavirus crisis.
It was learnt that Kyari had to be taken to an isolation centre within the country, as against the norm of leaders travelling abroad for quality medical treatment.
Falling oil prices
Despite its rich resource, Nigeria depends largely on crude-oil for survival. But this is threatening the country’s fragile economy.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, recently said the country maybe out of business if crude-oil prices fall below $22 per barrel.
The salaries of workers is gradually becoming a subject of discourse as major sources of revenue for the country is now threatened by coronavirus.
It is however gratifying to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), recently gave out over 1trillion naira to stimulate the country’s economy in the face of COVID-19.
Buhari reassures Nigerians as economy plummets
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a well-publicized broadcast, had assured the citizens that everyone will be protected from coronavirus.
He added that doing so has become a priority for his government.
However, experts believe that the country needs to do more to curb the increasing number of COVID-19 infection among citizens.