The pandemic is changing the world in unprecedented fashion and Politicians are tasked with developing responses to help manage the ensuing crisis ahead of a potential return to normalcy. It is with this context in play that Nigeria’s Governors Forum have aligned and proposed a two week national lockdown to slow the spread of the corona virus.
Why does this matter?
While the Federal Government has largely retained an oversight role and left decision making to the states, the governors’ position highlights the challenges that stem from the increase numbers and adds to the uncertainty of when normalcy will return and what form it’ll take.
The Big Picture
The pandemic means that economic activity has essentially been put on hold indefinitely. Naturally, the constrained nature of our ability to exchange goods and services will result in disastrous economic numbers and activity- a situation worsened by the crash in oil prices which essentially leaves the government hamstrung in its ability to meet up with its obligations to its workers, the larger society and its large scale infrastructural activity.
The extension of a lockdown on the national scale will help buy time to ramp up testing, slow down the spread of the disease and allow the government plan its exit strategy but there’s a case to be made that the lockdown which was already in its third week has been largely adhered to but its limited efficacy has served to foster discontent which a further extension might exacerbate.
The Governor’s Forum is the umbrella body for Nigerian Governors through which they debate national issues and take collective positions in their dealings with the government at the centre- the Federal Government. The Forum is led by Ekiti’s Kayode Fayemi who disclosed their position after a conference call yesterday and also announced the formation of COVID-19 committees at the regional level to be headed by health commissioners.
It remains to be seen how the Federal Government will respond to this call.