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NEWS Coronavirus: Abuja residents reject extension of COVID-19 lockdown

Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the Coronavirus lockdown in the area after the expiration of 14 days.

The residents, who pleaded with the president, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja, in separate interviews.

They said they were experiencing varying degrees of financial and economic constraints and frustrations caused by inactivity. Mr. Alfred Oshemughen, an electrical contractor, said the lockdown was a good decision by the government, adding, however, that the strain it brought on its wake was frustrating

He said he had been experiencing financial difficulties since the lockdown was imposed by the president, as all his activities had come to a halt.

“Even people, who were supposed to remit money to me from previous transactions, have taken advantage of the lockdown to come up with all sorts of excuses,’’ Oshemughen said.

According to him, the government should end the lockdown, while residents should still continue adhering to the preventive measures outlined by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He noted that if people would keep to the social distancing directive of the NCDC, with regular washing of hands, the spread of the virus would be curtailed. He added that prolonging the lockdown would impact negatively on the national economy and drain the lean resources of the people.

Mr. Wifred Inyang, a businessman, said he was appealing to the president to end the lockdown because of dwindling resources.

“Staying at home for 14 days without attending to regular business activities has affected my finances and productivity.

“You cannot continue taking from your savings without putting back; otherwise, you will realise you have suddenly become poor,’’ Inyang said.

Though he acknowledged the fact that the lockdown was a sure way of curbing the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, Wilfred lamented the toll it was taking on households.

“Come to think of it, I consider myself fortunate because I know I am better off than some people, but what about those who cannot feed if they don’t go out each day?’’ he queried.

Mrs Charity Nnamdi, a teacher, said without the lockdown, the number of infected people in the FCT would have been alarming.

She was, however, of the view that if the president decided to extend it, a lot of vulnerable people would suffer. Nnamdi said that the palliatives given by the federal government were not well coordinated by those responsible for their distribution.

“It is this type of situation that ends up enriching greedy politicians who have the opportunity to spearhead the distribution of the palliatives to the poor and the vulnerable.

“They will certainly take advantage of the palliatives, if it falls into their hands and share it among their family members alone,’’ she said.

Mr Timothy Ukala, an economist, opined that if the lockdown was allowed to linger more than necessary, it would put the economy into recession.

Ukala said government should only continue with the lockdown in places where the disease was on the rise. He also said that government should form a task force to monitor the distribution of the palliatives, as there was no exact data available.

“The reality is that poverty is obvious and everybody is vulnerable,’’ Ukala said.

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