Coronavirus: Nigerian governors urge Buhari to relax lockdown

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian governors have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to relax the lockdown that has been in place in parts of the country in the last month in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

They advised the president to impose interstate restriction but allow intra state movement. They also recommended continued restriction on large gatherings and compulsory use of face masks in public places.

The call is coming as the nation expects further action from Mr Buhari as a four-week lockdown imposed on Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States by the president draws to a close on Monday.

Several governors also declared lockdowns in their respective states.

Their recommendations are contained in an April 24 memo to the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

The letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was signed by the Ekiti State governor and chairman of the governors’ forum, Kayode Fayemi.

Mr Fayemi said the memo followed a teleconference meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on April 22, where governors were asked to suggest what they want reflected in the expected presidential pronouncement, to have a coordinated response across the country.

“Recall at that meeting, it was agreed that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) articulates the issues that it would want to be included in the next Presidential Pronouncement on Covid-19 so as to have a Uniform and Coordinated Policy on Covid-19 at both the national and sub-national levels,” he wrote.

The governors called for nationwide inter-state lockdown that excludes movement of essential supplies — foods, beverages, medical and pharmaceuticals, petroleum supplies and agricultural products.

They also recommended internal free movement but with restrictions on large gatherings and assemblies overnight curfews, lockdown of flights, and compulsory use of face masks/coverings in the public.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 lockdown: Enugu traders switch to foodstuff business

Sources familiar with the matter told PREMIUM TIMES that the forum had during the virtual meeting with Mr Osinbajo called for the decentralisation of the activities of the COVID-19 response from federal to local governments to curtail further spread.

After a month under lockdown, many Nigerians have advised against extending total restriction to minimize suffering.

It is not clear if Mr Buhari would accept the governors’ recommendations if passed to him.

Willy Bassey, who speaks for the SGF, said he was not aware of the letter.

As at 11:30 p.m on friday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control announced that 28 states in Nigeria have confirmed cases of coronavirus totalling 1095 index cases with 208 discharged persons and 32 deaths.

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