Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has announced the extension of the lockdown imposed on the state by another 14 days, to further prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The governor announced this on Thursday in Ilorin during the flag-off of the biometric registration of transporters slated to receive soft loans to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Mr AbdulRazaq said the extension of the lockdown by another 14 days was in accordance with the position of the Federal Government and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
He added that the state recorded two new cases of COVID-19 early Thursday, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 11.
The governor added that the two new cases were contacts of the previously confirmed cases.
“The lockdown for another two weeks is to reduce the number of cases. As you can see, Kano is going up; Lagos is going up. Even in Kwara, we have two more new cases.
“So there is the need for boundaries to be locked down. Essentially, each state has different policies on lockdown but we want to ensure that people are not moving across boundaries to transmit the virus,” he said.
According to the governor, the internal restriction on vehicular movements in the state remains in force, while government will step up measures to gradually lift the restrictions and rejuvenate the economy, including the mandatory use of face masks.
Mr AbdulRazaq said that the face masks would be mass-produced by indigenous tailors, who, he said, had already been briefed.
The governor added that about N100 million would be disbursed as non-interest loans to 20,000 transporters after the ongoing enumeration across the state.
He said the soft loan was under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), whose components included conditional cash transfer to the aged (Owo Arugbo), ‘market moni’ for petty traders and K-power targeting the youth and the unskilled segments of the society.
“The soft loan to the transporters is the first in the country to reduce the impact of the lockdown,” the governor added.
He said that the beneficiaries of the loan, who might get between N5,000 and N10,000, would refund the money in trickles, after the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr AbdulRazaq said the exercise also offered government the opportunity to get the accurate data of people in the informal sector for proper planning.
He said the programme was going on simultaneously with other components of the KWASSIP to lessen the impact of the economic downturn on the people.
“We’re happy to be here to fulfil our promise of having some form of safety net for the poor. This is about carrying everybody along and leaving no one behind.
“The social investment programme is a key programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and I am one of those who believe in the programme.
“During the campaign, the Vice President was here to launch the ‘market moni’ and ‘trader moni’ programmes.
“I was with him and saw the impact. Then, after the electioneering, I went to the villages and saw indeed that the impacts were real.
“The N-Power and other programmes were really impactful and based on that, we decided to set up the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP),” he said.
The governor added that the programme for Okada riders and other transport workers was not originally part of the programme.
“It was meant to be at the back end of the programme, but we quickly activated it because of the impacts of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order on businesses and the poor.
“That is why we decided to enumerate them and give them aid, to be able to survive under the lockdown.
“This will also be extended to other segments of the economy. We have to drive our economy. Various programmes are going on,” he said.
According to him, there are ongoing road constructions which will be inaugurated on May 29 as well as school rehabilitation programmes.
“So, essential work will go on. We have also allowed our farmers to go to their farms. So we are not allowing the economy to grind to a halt,” the governor said.
Mr AbdulRazaq added that apart from the registered farmers, petrol stations, hospitals and pharmacies were also exempted from the restriction order.
“The government had earlier exempted vehicles carrying foods and drugs as well as essential workers, such as health workers and journalists, from the restriction order,” he added.