Amidst the rising cases of coronavirus disease in the country and the shocking nonchalance of many Nigerians towards the pandemic, the Civil Societies Network in Bayelsa State has resolved to ensure public discourse about the pandemic is kept on the front burner, by calling on traditional rulers, youth leaders, religious overseers and other community leaders to use their influence in expanding the public outreach campaigns on COVID-19. The Civil Societies, operating under the auspices of the CSO Situation Room, find it ironical and bothersome that, the more the number of confirmed cases increases in the State, the lesser the public interest in curbing further spread of the virus. The reverse, ought to be the case. With the spike in the number of infected persons within and around Bayelsa, the CSO Situation Room has begun reaching out to community leaders in the State, requesting them to play the symbolic role of closing the gaps in communication with the people, by raising their voices and calling for action against the spread of the deadly virus in the State.
Rivers State Report:
Sequel to the introduction of health safety rules by the Rivers State Government to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the State,there has been several incidents reported within the State of little infants choking and gasping for breath after their parents ignorantly wore face masks on them, out of fear of flouting the government’s rules. The CSO Situation Room made up of civil societies in the State, is greatly alarmed by these reports as they are an indication of an acute lack of awareness amongst the populace, about the recommendations on the use of the facemask published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The level of public sensitisation about COVID-19 has been noticeably minimal in Rivers State. Though some parts of the State experienced a total lockdown for some days, imposed by the State Government, many residents in the State lamented that they were never enlightened about the pandemic,as the government appeared more interested in enforcing a strict compliance to the lockdown, than seeking the understanding and cooperation of the people.
Pictures show CSO Situation Room members on a mission to distribute IEC materials in communities within Bayelsa
Bayelsa State Report
The subtle pressure mounted on the Bayelsa State Government by the CSO Situation Room and some public-spirited citizens across the State, to take more drastic actions in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, has yielded some positive results with the State Government taking the public enlightenment campaigns a notch higher. The government commissioned the production of DVD (Digital Video Disc) and IEC (Information Education and Communication) materials, to improve communication and information dissemination to residents of the State on their collective responsibility to stem the tide of community transmission. The IEC materials were produced using slogans and messages curated by the CSO Situation Room for the purpose of public sensitisation. About 5,000 copies of these IEC materials and DVDs have been handed over to the CSO Situation Room by the State Government, for distribution to the public in the course of carrying out their daily community sensitisation campaigns across the State. Social Action, one of the civil society groups in the coalition, provided the logistical support needed to efficiently distribute the materials.
Urua Tor market in Ikot Ekpene under lock till 10am, owing to the restrictions imposed by the government
Akwa Ibom State Report:
The government of Akwa Ibom State, while relaxing the lockdown in the state a month ago, announced that the main reason for easing the lockdown was to ameliorate the increasing hardship on most people and protect their livelihoods. For this reason, Civil Society Groups in the State, under the auspices of the CSO Situation Room are calling on the government to pay heed to the increased hardship occasioned by the new trading policy, which states that markets are to be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays but, from 10am – 4pm.
CSO Situation Room members at a recent meeting with Bayelsa State Government officials to discuss the COVID-19 situation
Bayelsa State Report:
The CSO Situation Room has observed with dismay, the incessant inter-State border crossing by people,in flagrant violation of the border closure order imposed by both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Bayelsa State Government. The Civil Society Organisations which make up the CSO Situation Room, have noted that several persons travel in and out of Bayelsa State daily through the border communities, and they illegally cross over the State’s boundaries, into a neighbouring State, either by offering bribe to security agents at the borders, or by ‘settling’ some community folks who then guide the travellers safely through bush paths that lead them out of the State. This has become a popular, but discreet means for some community youth to line their pockets with ill-gotten money.
Edo State Report:
Civil Society groups in Edo State under the aegis of the Edo State Civil Society Organisations, EDOCSO, have taken delivery of the third batch of food palliatives donated by the Edo State Government, for the benefit of indigent persons in the State. The government mandated the civil society network to coordinate the distribution process and ensure the palliatives get to the poor people for whom they are intended, as a measure to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the partial lockdown imposed in the State, following the coronavirus outbreak. The items donated by the government are: 200 bags of rice, 200 sacks of beans, 200 bottles of groundnut oil, 50 packs of Semovita and 100 assorted soft drinks.
Thematic Report: There has been a drastic drop in the demand for refined and unrefined oil
Written by Lillian Akhigbe:
Even a layperson who is neither an economist nor a finance expert, but who has been on a lockdown with his family for a period of time within the last two months, must have observed that the coronavirus – induced lockdown slowed down economic activities in parts of Nigeria. From the school teacher in Abuja who decides to remove the battery of his car and keep it inside his house like a treasure box, mindful that the vehicle will not be on the road during the total lockdown, to the airline companies with offices in Lagos who had to place over 80% of their staff on a mandatory Leave without pay, pending the lifting of the ban on inter-State and inter-country air travel; it was evident that there has been a drop in the purchase of petrol, aviation fuel and other petroleum-based fuels.All across the world, the demand for refined and unrefined oil drastically reduced within the last three months. Many people just did not need that much petroleum-based fuel while at home on a lockdown. The global oil market has been majorly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the Nigerian economy in particular, which is majorly dependent on the oil market, was one of the worst-hit.Nigeria had a pile up of unsold crude oil in vessels offshore and the challenge of a drastic drop in oil prices stared the country hard in the face.
By Peter Mazzi
Despite the different physical policies adopted by leaders all over the world to curb the transmission of the coronavirus, the curve has been on the bend. Some of the measures recommended by the World Health Organisation to flatten the curve, include the maintenance of respiratory and personal hygiene and keeping safe physical distances, one from another. But one notable measure that was adopted by many affected countries to enforce the physical distancing, was the implementation of a lockdown which involves the partial or total restriction of movement of persons from one place to another. This seemed to be perhaps one of the most effective and cost- effective means of constraining the contagion from infected persons to the uninfected or from a region of high infection to a less affected area. The logic is simply that the virus cannot move on its own but depend on a host in form of an infected person to transmit to others as they engage in physical communication. As effective as this measure may be, it has also proven to be highly unsustainable.
(Thematic Report on the lockdown vis-à-vis low rate of contact tracing and testing.)
By Lillian Akhigbe:
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, published a breakdown of the number of tests for coronavirus conducted in each State in Nigeria and the FCT, as of May, 17, 2020. According to the NCDC report, a total of 35,983 tests have been conducted in Nigeria as a whole (as of May 17, 2020). Of that number, only a meagre 70 was done on samples collected from Bayelsa State of which 6 have turned out positive
The number of tests carried out in Nigeria as a whole within the last three months, is about 36,000. This is abysmally low when compared with the level of testing going on in some other countries. China for example, conducts an average of 110,000 tests in a day. Little wonder, why the country has been able to make appreciable progress in its bid to flatten the curve of the pandemic. At the rate at which tests are being conducted in Nigeria, it will take quite a long while for tests to be conducted on as many as 2 Million people, which make up about 1% of the estimated 200 Million people living in the country.
CSO Situation Room members in a meeting with officials of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Health and other stakeholders
Bayelsa State Report:
The CSO Covid-19 Situation Room in its collaborative efforts with the Bayelsa State Government, had a meeting with the Ministry of Health officials and other stakeholders. The major agenda of the meeting was centred on improving government’s responses and preparedness, especially as regards ensuring an increase in the rate of tests conducted on the people of the State to ascertain their COVID-19 status. Only 70 tests have been carried out on samples of suspected cases in the State as of May 17, 2020, of which six have been recorded as confirmed. Till date, the State has no COVID-19 testing centre, and only has two isolation centres provided by the State Government and one quarantine centre donated by a multi-national Oil Company.