COVID-19: Nigeria, in dire need of a people-friendly economic policy response as recession looms

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.

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Thinking outside the box, to control the spread of coronavirus

bank crowd

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.

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CSO Situation Room deplores decreasing compliance to COVID-19 safety rules, as churches and mosques re-open in Borno

A public place in Borno State where people are seen violating the public health safety rules on COVID-19.

Borno State Report:

Civil Society Organisations in Borno State under the platform of the CSO Situation Room, have bemoaned the alarming rate of decline in the level of compliance of the majority of inhabitants living in State, to the laid-down COVID-19 protocol put in place by the Government to halt the spread of the pandemic in the State. Following the easing of restrictions on movement by the State Government and the re-opening of religious houses in the State, there has been a change in the people’s attitude towards combating the virus which some stakeholders reckon could be as a result of the feeling of liberation that came with the lifting of the lockdown. Complacency towards the fight against COVID-19 has gradually become the order of the day as many consider a resumption of religious activities synonymous to a return to normalcy. Hence, many people are now seen in public places brazenly flouting all the stipulated health safety precautions. They hug, shake hands, wear no face masks, converge in groups of over 50 and do not practise personal hygiene.

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CSO Situation Room raises alarm over shortage in water supply and inadequate COVID-19 testing in Bayelsa.

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.

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CSO Situation Room on COVID-19 condemns the total lockdown in Rivers, calls it an exercise in futility.

The streets of Port Harcourt under lockdown

Rivers State Report:
The total lockdown in Port Harcourt and Obio Akpor Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Rivers State which was temporarily suspended for a few days by the State Government, re-commenced on Sunday May 17, 2020. The State Governor, Nyesom Wike stated that the lockdown, aimed at preventing community transmission, will be in force till further notice and warned the people of those LGAs to desist from flouting the indefinite suspension of all movements deemed non-essential. Social Action and other civil Society groups under the auspices of the CSO Situation Room, condemn the total and indefinite lockdown because the government did not make reasonable provision towards ensuring a significant positive outcome from the lockdown as it relates to curbing the spread of coronavirus in the State.

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CSO Situation Room demands for public accountability in the fight against COVID-19 in Delta State

Picture shows over 50 persons at a recent gathering in Delta State, with no face masks worn and no social distancing enforced

Delta State Report:

In the light of numerous reports from community monitors engaged by some Civil Society Organisations in Delta State, on the absence of meaningful achievements by the State Government in the fight against the deadly coronavirus disease, the Civil Societies under the aegis of the CSO Situation Room have called on the State Government to fulfil its obligation on public accountability, by giving an account of all public expenditure incurred so far in its bid to tackle the pandemic.

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CSO Situation Room monitors activities in Rivers State as Government lifts lockdown temporarily

Crowded markets in Port Harcourt City Local Government after the announcement of the two-day ease on lockdown

The total lockdown which took effect in Port Harcourt and Obio Akpor Local Government Areas of Rivers State on Thursday, May 7th, 2020 was temporarily relaxed on Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 by the Governor to enable residents of the State replenish their stock of basic needs and cater to other necessities, in view of a resumption of the total lockdown on Sunday, May 17th, 2020. This came as a breather to the people of both LGAs who have been on a 24-hour lockdown. Following the initial two-day lift slated for Tuesday and Wednesday (May 12th and 13th) but which was later extended till Sunday, May 17th, Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs came alive again with several humans seen hustling and bustling on the streets and other public places.

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CSO Situation Room observes apathy towards COVID-19, amidst heightened insecurity in Akwa Ibom State

A cross-section of people at a market in Akwa Ibom State after the lockdown was lifted

For almost the entire month of April, Akwa Ibom State was on a lockdown imposed by the State Government as a way of checkmating the spread of coronavirus, following the announcement of its first confirmed case on April 1, 2020. The lockdown which commenced on April 2, 2020 lasted till the end of the month, within which period, over 1,000 persons were arrested for violating the stay-at-home order and taken to a Magistrate Court within their senatorial district for trial. But it soon became clear to the public, that the government’s lockdown order was not achieving the ultimate objective of keeping people alive and preventing death, as many poor people became exposed to imminent death from acute hunger, with the continued shutdown of the State’s economy. This made very many people agitated and their apathy towards the fight against the pandemic grew as the lockdown progressed.

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CSO COVID-19 Situation Room observes dwindling livelihoods in Bayelsa State

Trading activities in a market in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State in the face of the partial lockdown declared by the state government

As the scourge of the pandemic rages on across the world, residents of Bayelsa State in Nigeria remain apprehensive about the prospects of their livelihoods and general wellbeing. Bayelsa, being an oil-rich state has experienced firsthand, the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the global oil market. The dwindling oil revenue accruable to the State, coupled with a noticeable lull in business activities within the state have adversely affected the livelihoods of the majority of the State’s inhabitants who are mainly into petty trading, small-scale fishery and artisanal work.

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Bayelsa CSO COVID-19 Situation Room embarks on massive sensitisation.

CSO COVID-19 Situation Room distributing flyers and hand sanitisers to members of the public in Bayelsa State

The COVID-19 Situation Room which is a coalition of Civil Society groups including Social Action, set up to monitor government’s response to the pandemic and provide support in creating massive awareness amongst the populace, has visited different communities in the State to monitor people’s response to the pandemic and create awareness about it. The Situation Room embarked on a massive outreach in various communities to enlighten the people of Bayelsa State on the risks posed by the coronavirus and the need to prevent getting infected by adhering strictly to all stipulated safety measures such as keeping safe distance from others, regular washing of the hands, frequent use of the hand sanitiser, wearing of face mask in public, eating healthy meals and engaging in physical exercises regularly.

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