COVID-19: THE ERROR OF COMMON RESPONSE AND ITS EFFECT ON THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY

COVID-19: THE ERROR OF COMMON RESPONSE AND ITS EFFECT ON THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY

If this were not so serious an article, the title should read thus; COVID -19: “FOLLOW FOLLOW”: THE NIGERIAN CASE. Never in my lifetime have we experienced something as devastating as COVID-19 even as it continues to ravage lives and properties across the world. Its worthy of note to examine how various country across the globe are grappling with this new scourge. As evident in the earlier phase of the novel disease, if not all, most countries around the world adopted the similar approach of lockdown and most are currently left with attendant consequences of such actions and inactions. Nigeria like most countries went into lockdown at the earliest convenient time for the government as the new global acceptable temporary “cure” for the novel disease. Nigeria unlike most countries in Europe and the Americas who were leading the pack in lockdown already has economic complications stemming from low oil prices the country major export, the unnecessary border closure, increasing inflation of which food inflation which Nigerians spent 60% of their income is nearing the 20% mark, the ever-growing unemployment figures which according to the National Bureau of Statistics sit currently at 27.1%  as at August 2020 and to further paint an already red situation/picture clearer, the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) has reported that the current crisis risk pushing 39.4million Nigerians into unemployment by December 2020. A look at current NBS figures shows all these are not far fetched.

Lockdown in its first few weeks for Nigeria might have been a global response to the unchartered territory as government across the world and Africa, in particular, don’t want to be seen as doing nothing, but quite a few people underlined the danger of copying and pasting the western model of response to the pandemic as a one fit all answer as all countries have their uniqueness in culture, demographic structure and economic abilities to withstand a lockdown etc.,  and not to create a permanent solution to a temporary problem. One such eminent Nigerian who raised the alarm then was the former Central Bank Governor Prof.  Charles Soludo who warned in his op-ed then “that lockdown in African suffers time-inconsistency problem without a credible exit strategy; is unaffordable and could potentially worsen the twin pandemic- health and economy in Africa” as it is crystal clear for all to see now that we- Africa and Nigeria, in particular, are in a worse place now as a result of the unnecessarily prolonged and insistence on lockdown without any realistic data or plans to augment the reality of most Nigerians who depends on daily commuting and trading for their livelihood the effect of which is yet to be accurately measured. With benefit of hindsight, this erroneous approach coupled with our not so good economic indexes has culminated into the 2nd recession in 5 years. There might be light at the end of the tunnel for COVID-19 as efforts for vaccines are bringing much-needed results with recent announcements from major pharm like Pfizer whose vaccine has a 95%  effectiveness in trial but no respite for teeming young population without jobs in Nigeria and across Africa.


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