On April 20, Nigeria extended the closure of its airspace and airports by two weeks, aviation minister Hadi Sirika said on Twitter.
On April 13, Nigeria extended the lockdown in three key states of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun by 14 days to slow the spread of coronavirus in Africa’s most populous country.
On March 18, the government announced it was restricting entry into the country for travellers from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the US, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Those coming from high-risk countries are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Nigeria expanded its restrictions on March 21 announcing it will close its two main international airports in the cities of Lagos and Abuja from March 23 for one month.
The country also plans to suspend rail services starting on March 23.
Computer specialist Michael Kundun left for work early Monday, as Nigeria’s coronavirus lockdown eased at 6 a.m.
Kundun had not been to his shop in Abuja’s Nyanya Market since late March, when authorities announced the lockdown. When he opened, he had to clean and dust to get ready for business.
“It is going to be gradual,” he said. “It’s not going to be as it was from the beginning, but by the grace of God it will pick up. Business will pick up with time.”
Nigeria relaxed its 35-day lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states following President Muhammadu Buhari’s order, given last week during his national address.
Harm to economy
Buhari concedes the lockdown has hurt the Nigerian economy, especially in non-essential sectors that depend on daily income for survival.
Much like Kundun’s business.
“The lockdown affected my business drastically,” he said. “In fact, I found it difficult to work. I found it difficult to meet my customers.”
But the decision to relax the lockdown came as Nigeria’s number of coronavirus cases has been increasing.
Daily figures publicly reported by Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control doubled in the last week, reaching more than 2,500 on Monday. By Thursday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S., the total had climbed past 3,100.
This is why critics like Abuja resident Abubakar Ahutu have challenged the president’s position.
“I’m not happy about the planned relaxation of the lockdown,” Ahutu said. “If the federal government or the president in particular is having good advisers, I think it is very bad for them at this point in time to start thinking about reopening the lockdown.”
Before easing lockdowns for certain areas, authorities issued new regulations, including an overnight curfew, the mandatory use of face masks in public and strict social distancing restrictions.
But thousands across Abuja city on Monday flooded marketplaces and banks, thereby violating the physical distancing orders.
Look at Ghana
Economic analyst Audu Siyaka had this warning:
“Ghana tried to ease their lockdowns, and what happened was not palatable.” They had to reverse their initial decision. I’m not saying that may happen to Nigeria, but it’s a likelihood, because of our population.”
Only 17,000 people have so far been tested for the coronavirus in Nigeria — an exceptionally small number when compared with figures in other African nations. But Buhari has promised aggressive testing and contact tracing in the coming weeks.
Critics will hold him by his words.
Nigerian President Buhari and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) have approved measures to being ‘phase two’ to ease the lockdown, which has been in place since March 29, 2020. The guidelines for phase two, which will be in place from June 02, 2020 – June 29, 2020, include:
· The nationwide curfew remains in place but the time has been changed to 10:00 P.M. – 4:00 A.M. daily. Healthcare workers and journalists are exempted from his curfew.
· Banks may resume normal working hours.
· Government offices will be open between 9:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. Monday – Friday.
· The ban on interstate movement remains in effect except for agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods, and essential services.
· All airports remain closed to domestic and international travel, except for emergency flights. The PTF is considering plans to reopen airports for domestic flights by June 21, 2020 if proper protocols are put in place by the aviation industry.
· Kano State is approved to enter phase one of eased lockdown.
· Face masks or coverings are mandatory in public settings and handwashing/sanitizing practices must continue to be followed.
· Ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace.
· Relaxation of restrictions on places of worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and State governments.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday ordered the cessation of movement in Lagos and the capital Abuja for 14 days in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Nigeria has 97 confirmed cases, most of which have been in its two main cities. Buhari said the restrictions would begin at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT) on Monday, March 30. He said the measures would also apply to Ogun State, which neighbours Lagos State.
Health experts are concerned about the potential for a widespread outbreak in a country which has around 200 million inhabitants and a poor public health system.
The president’s televised speech marked his first major address to the nation since Nigeria’s first confirmed coronavirus case was announced in late February.
Buhari said he was “directing the cessation of all movements” in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun for an “initial period” of 14 days.
“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period,” Buhari said.
“We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other states,” he said.
Buhari said the restriction would not apply to hospitals and in health care facilities related to manufacturing and distribution.
Late on Sunday, long queues started to form at supermarkets in Lagos and Abuja.
Buhari acknowledged that the restrictions may make it hard for people to feed themselves in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.
“We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death,” he said.
Lagos, the powerhouse of Africa’s biggest economy and the country’s commercial capital of some 20 million people, began a seven-day partial shutdown late last week.
The global coronavirus outbreak has already torpedoed Africa’s biggest economy through its impact on major trade partner China, where the pandemic began. Amid low oil prices caused by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, Nigeria earlier this month devalued its currency and said it must cut this year’s budget by $4.9 billion.
Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari announced yesterday a host of travel restrictions and the release of emergency funds to help counter the spread of coronavirus.
Land and air borders will be closed for a period of four weeks while only cargo ships which have been at sea for more than 14-days will be allowed to dock in Nigeria’s ports, the president wrote on Twitter.
Commuter trains running from Lagos to other parts of the country are also suspended, as the country’s commercial capital is the epicentre of the virus.
The president also released a $27m grant to Lagos State to help the region “increase its capacity to control and contain the outbreak”.
A further $13.5m was given to a Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NigeriaCDC) to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.
He also hinted at coming fiscal interventions once the federal budget had been concluded.
These measures add to the partial closure of public spaces across many states and the directive given yesterday by Lagos state authorities to close all markets and shops for seven days.
Nigeria today has 65 cases, though many believe the figure is much higher due to the lack of testing capability by local authorities.
The Nigeria Cluster is coordinated centrally by a team of experienced coordination specialists. The team consists of Sector Coordinators from both sector Lead Agencies, UNICEF and Save the Children, as well as an Information Management Officer seconded from IMMAP to UNICEF. The EiEWGN team is responsible for facilitating the coordination of partners by ensuring the Sector Core Functions are maintained. The EiEWGN team also maintains intercluster coordination with other sector-specific Clusters and Areas of Responsibilities (AoRs) and – as the central coordination unit for EiE in Nigeria – The EiEWGN team develops and maintains relationships with the Humanitarian Country Team, the Federal Ministry of Education and the Global Education Cluster (GEC).
Nigeria Education in Emergencies Working Group (EiEWG)
- Facilitating the coordination of partners, information sharing, and mobilizing partners to ensure a coherent and effective EiE response;
- As the central coordination unit for EiE in Nigeria – the EiEWG team develops and maintains relationships with the Humanitarian Country Team, the Federal Ministry of Education (MoE), the State Ministry of Education, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), relevant local education authorities and the Global Education Sector (GEC); and
- Engaging in continual inter-Sector coordination with OCHA and sector-specific actors and Areas of Responsibilities (AoRs) as well as donors. Partner Roles and Responsibilities Led by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Save the Children and UNICEF, the EiEWG is comprised of partners who implement EiE programming in Nigeria. Partners work towards multilateral coordination through the EiEWG via the following means:
- Endorsing the overall aim and objectives of the Sector and standards for the design and implementation of emergency education projects;
- Adhering to EiEWG endorsed standards in the design and implementation of EiE programming (Framework);
- Maintaining regular attendance at Working Group meetings at the national and sub-national level (Structure) and other relevant platforms, such as Technical Working Groups, and Strategic Advisory Groups;
- Reporting their EiE activities on a monthly basis using the Sectors’ ReportHub2 and highlighting needs, gaps, and duplications;
- Supporting the development of the Humanitarian Response Plan and Multi-Year Education Sector Strategy;
- Working as a team, with government, and other Sector members to implement EiE activities, according to agreed minimum standards, including engaging with affected communities, and support to build local capacities; and
- Participating in Sector activities, including assessing needs, developing plans, joint monitoring, and developing policies and guidelines through working groups.
The spread of the coronavirus through the globe from China initially spared Nigeria, like many other Africa countries, with zero recorded case as at January 2020. By 28 February, however, Nigeria reported their first case, a Nigerian UK returnee. Nearly two months later there are 373 confirmed cases, 99 recoveries and 11 deaths (see Knowcovid19.ng for real-time updates).
Consequently, on 19 March, the Federal Ministry of Education announced the temporary shut-down of all schools in Nigeria, effective 23 March, in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. This prompted a set of questions: “Do schools in Nigeria have the technology to cater for the estimated 46 million students affected? Do households have the facilities to engage their children in remote learning? Do teachers have the skills and facilities to deliver live lesson or record massive open online course (MOOC) styled lessons?”
Children being out-of-school has long been the reality in Nigeria education sector, with about 13.2 million school-age out of school, the highest in the world. Even though the basic (nine) years of education are free and compulsory, many children are not in school due to factors such as poverty, gender gaps, religion and regional factors, among others. Nigeria allocates about 7 per cent of their national budget to education, as opposed to the 15 to 20 per cent recommended by UNESCO.
The school-closure measure means learners previously in school are no longer going to school. The drastic escalation of coronavirus will not only affect learning, it will compound the pre-existing education inequalities in Nigeria, with vulnerable and disadvantaged children at the receiving end. To curb the widening of the existing education inequalities, there is an onus on the Nigerian government to put in place measures to ensure continuity, inclusion and equity for all learners during this pandemic.
Unlike her western predecessors, the Federal Ministry of Education’s school-closure directive did not produce clear-cut policy measures on how to mitigate learning disruptions for children and how to address the digital divide. The Coordinated Education response to COVID-19 pandemic on the landing page of the Ministry website is vague and does little to address the learning needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. The single well-documented response is the Nigeria Education in Emergency Working Group (NWiWwg) Strategy, published on 7 April 2020 which aims to mitigate the negative impact of the school closure on learners and teachers in North-East Nigeria.
While the efforts of the Federal and State government in the health sector and in providing financial stimulus packages and emergency palliatives must be commended, ignoring the education sector would be disastrous. As emphasised by UNESCO, temporary school closure comes with high social and economic costs, with severe impact on children from disadvantaged background.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the huge socio-economic inequalities in the Nigeria education system. Many wealthy families in Nigeria send their children to private schools given the poor resources and facilities in public schools. These children might experience little disruption to their learning, because their private schools are well equipped with ICT infrastructures and they can afford remote learning. Learners from vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, without access to computers and other devices outside school, will, however ,be left struggling. In many cases, these children live in communities with poor or non-existent internet connectivity and epileptic power supply. Inevitably, this digital divide will exacerbate learning disparities among these children.
What is the next step?
The temporary school closures mean educators, funders and policymakers are rethinking the way learning is delivered and accessed. In China, for instance, governments provide computers to students from low-income households and offer students mobile data packages and telecommunication subsidies. In France, efforts are being made to lend devices to learners who do not have access to computers. Similarly, Portugal is partnering with the post office to deliver worksheets to students who do not have access to internet at home.
In Nigeria, some State governments (such as Kwara and Lagos) use local media channels such as radio programmes to reach out to learners in remote communities. The government could further mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19 on education by investing in the provision of solar-powered educational gadgets, pre-loaded with offline academic resources to learners in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
The government should also partner with telecommunication companies to offer free or subsidised mobile data packages for learners. The Nigeria Education in emergency Working Group (NWiWwg) Covid19 Response Strategy should be scaled-up, to include other regions in the country. Of course, these policy measures would require significant financial investment, but such investment is worthwhile for the progress of the economy in the long-term.
Looking ahead, it is pertinent to ensure #LearningNeverStops during this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an enormous risk to the health and safety of learners, teachers, parents, school administrators, education practitioners, and the wider community. More than 1.5 billion children and young people globally have been affected by school and university closures. Subsequent development led to the indefinite closure of all schools and learning facilities in Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Education, (in collaboration with its departments and agencies [MDAs], development partners, the Education in Emergencies Working Group in Nigeria (EiEWGN), and the Nigeria Education Group [NEG]), have developed a Nigeria Education Sector COVID-19 Response Strategy to guide and systemize this response. The strategy sets out the framework for comprehensive and coordinated actions to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s immediate, medium, and long-term impact on the nation’s education sector.
An increased number of Nigerian children are in the labor force right now because schools have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Experts monitoring child labor in the country say since the pandemic shutdown, more children are working as hawkers, cleaners or on city streets begging to earn money to help their families.
Abubakar Mohammed is resuming work at an Abuja workshop where he has been learning carpentry and making furniture since he was 9 years old.
Now 15, and with his school closed because of the coronavirus, he is working full time to support his family, although he says he hopes to return to school soon.
“I’m missing school,” he said. “I just stay here for this coronavirus to go. I’m just staying here to make some money so that when school resumes, I’ll go back to school.”
Abubakar is from a polygamous home and has five younger siblings.
His mother welcomes the support, saying she decided to give him a head start on learning a craft.
“I told him to learn a handwork because there’s no money at home,” said Aisha Mohammed, Abubakar’s Mother. “And when his father is no more, he’ll be able to take care of his younger ones.”
Child labor in Nigeria has been outlawed since 2003, but the practice remains widespread especially among the country’s poor.
Valentine Ndzi owns the workshop where Mohammed and six other boys are trying to make ends meet.
“If their parents want to bring them to work under us, we don’t collect money,” Ndzi said. “We look at their skills. We don’t collect their money because maybe at the end, the boys might not stay. If they’re serious, that’s when we now bargain on … see what we want.”
The International Labor Organization estimates 15 million Nigerian children are in the labor force — the highest total in West Africa.
The ILO says Nigeria’s relaxation of lockdown measures while keeping schools closed has triggered a rapid rise in the child labor rate.
Agatha Kolawole is country program head of ILO’s Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labor (ACCEL Africa).
“Now that the lockdown has been lessened, at least we have some level of movement. These children are out there working to make ends meet for their families, to care for their homes and to be able to at least provide food for their families. Right now, we have more children definitely out there working as laborers,” Kolawole said.
Child labor advocates say poverty and cultural perceptions are major obstacles to eliminating child labor in Nigeria.
Even though Nigerian authorities are introducing online education modules to keep children busy during this period, many like Mohammed have no access to online schooling.
So, they will continue to work as they wait for schools to reopen.
Although no date for the reopening of universities in Nigeria has been given, the government last week announced a set of conditions to be met for the resumption of teaching and learning. The move has intensified the existing debate around the reopening of higher education institutions which have been closed since 23 March.
At a virtual meeting on 13 June of heads of tertiary institutions, Professor Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, federal minister of education, outlined the measures needed to be taken by all institutions.
They include hand-washing facilities, body temperature checks and body disinfectants at all points of entry to their major facilities including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, etc.
The entire premises of each institution should be decontaminated and all efforts geared toward the maintenance of hygiene. University authorities would also need to ensure social and physical distancing in classes and meeting spaces.
All universities will remain closed until further notice, he said.
The ongoing closure of university campuses – and schools – has ignited nationwide debate. In an editorial on 18 June, the Nigerian Guardian argued against the reopening of educational institutions on the grounds that COVID-19 infections were growing at an alarming rate in urban centres.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that the initial plan for staggered classes for students was going to be a precarious adventure. Whilst we empathise with parents, students, proprietors that schools cannot resume as of yet, the government must not be put under any pressure to resume the usual academic activities. How could we have controlled and managed the interaction of students with peers and teachers? How ready would have been teachers and school workers to commit themselves to effect COVID-19 protocol?” it said.
The editorial concluded by arguing that campuses should remain closed until optimal conditions are put in place.
A number of university lecturers told University World News that the campuses are not yet ready to accommodate fresh directives and conditions to reopen the campuses, with Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members taking the opportunity to criticise the government for its lack of prior investment in higher education.
Dr Wale Suenu, vice chairman of ASUU, Lagos State University chapter, said: “With hindsight, the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities even before the outbreak of COVID-19 is providentially justified. The union asked for considerable improvement in the teaching, research infrastructures including student accommodation and other physical requirements. The government did not listen to the passionate pleas of ASUU.
“Suddenly, COVID-19 created fundamental health challenges for all university systems. Health became the centrepiece for the campuses. If the government had listened to the years of appeal by ASUU, the universities and indeed the nation would not have been at the mercy of this virus. Now the government is obliged to provide all necessary health requirements to keep the campuses safe before students can come in.”
Professor Yakubu Wazir based in the department of education science and technology at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the reduction in this year’s budget for education and health in the midst of this pandemic was a great disservice to the nation.
“Granted, there is an unprecedented fall in the price of crude oil in the international market, but the government of General Muhammadu Buhari should have considered cutting the salaries and allowances of political office holders instead of cutting about 20% of the budget meant for education and health. These two sectors are fundamental to the needs of our country at these trying times.”
The issue of inadequate physical infrastructure on the campuses must be addressed before the campuses are reopened. According to Professor Maxwell Henshaw from the psychology department at the University of Port Harcourt, several classrooms with multiple doors and gates should be provided for proper ventilation.
Complete fumigation of the campuses is imperative and adequate first aid centres in several corners of the campuses must be provided, he said.
Professor Ambrose Joseph based in the sociology department at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, examined the impact of coronavirus on human society.
“I am looking at the consequences of this pandemic on human societies. Without a single gunshot, the human activities in this globalised planet have been brought to a halt. This is unprecedented. Consequently, we are gradually moving from the world we know, and we are transiting to a new world, the configuration of which we are yet to master.
“In this transition we shall be confronted with unpredictable climate change for which we are not prepared, coupled with the necessity to move from fossilised sources of energy to new forms of energy like solar, wind and biogas. We shall be subjects and objects of the incoming and undefined world order thanks to COVID-19,” he said.
The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has no doubt adversely affected the global economy. It has forced many businesses to temporarily shut down and governments across the world to place a restriction on movement while exempting providers of essential services who are to strictly observe social distancing rules while providing services as a way to contain the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, the educational sector is a part of the receiving end. According to UNESCO, an estimated 1.725 billion learners have been affected as a result of school closures, representing about 99.9% of the world’s student population as of April 13th, 2020.
Embracing technology: To cushion the effects of the pandemic, the world is embracing technological innovations. Virtual interactions are increasingly adopted to replace face-to-face engagements and limit the total disruption to many sectors. UNESCO has recommended the use of distance learning programmes, open educational applications, and platforms by schools and teachers to reach learners remotely.
These could include integrated digital learning platforms, video lessons, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and broadcast through radio and television. The success of these recommendations hinges on the use of high-technology or low-technology solutions, which are based on the reliability of local power supply, internet connectivity and digital skills of teachers, students, parents, and caretakers.
But every student can’t afford this: As pleasant as this solution is, it is said that students from under-served low-income communities will be left out and unable to access learning during this period. In Nigeria, many states have embarked on airing school lessons on radio and television and this is highly commendable.
Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) like Teach for Nigeria, are partnering with government agencies to facilitate implementation and adoption. For example, in Ogun state, Teach For Nigeria is working with the government to deliver classes on TV and have deployed online capacity building workshops for teachers on programming using Scratch (a block-based visual programming language and website targeted primarily at children). This is in a bid to develop skills for STEM education. However, inadequate resources for deployment to under-served communities remain a challenge.
Poverty is a major factor: As stated by the World Poverty Clock, the nation currently has about 50% of her population living in poverty, with many of the citizens struggling to afford three square meals, especially at this time, despite the palliative measures by the government. This means that there are a lot of students who do not have access to either radio or television, coupled with the issue of erratic power supply. Such students also have no internet access nor educational technological resources, a situation that is creating a gap in their academic progress for as long as this pandemic persists.
Obviously, COVD-19 is magnifying the educational inequity in Nigeria as only those with access to digital learning resources will keep learning in the comfort of their homes while those without access (the majority) are left behind.
This learning crisis is widening the social gaps instead of narrowing them. Students are now being disadvantaged by the pandemic. In the future, this gap will show up as weak skills in the workforce, thereby making it less likely for this category of young people to get well paid and satisfying jobs. When this happens, these young people will become nuisances in the society, championing courses that aren’t noble just to make ends meet. This reminds me of a saying by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo (a Nigerian nationalist and statesman) which goes thus:
“The children of the poor you failed to train will never let your children have peace”
We must act now: Now is the time to bridge the gap of educational inequity by ensuring adequate funding of the education sector. The effect of the pandemic is just one out of many implications of educational inequity, we don’t know what awaits us in the future, so it is highly important that we provide an equitable and inclusive learning environment for the students to ensure continuity in learning for all, irrespective of their socio-economic background. One of the palliative measures that can be adopted includes a public-private partnership with non-profits and other government agencies who are working to salvage the situation. Such efforts can be supported through the provision of funds at this critical time. We should not forget that education is the bedrock of every society as education is the solution to whatever problem we might have.
Based on this, it is suggested that portable solar radios be provided to each family especially in remote places. This will ensure continuity in learning for the majority of learners who are unable to access digital learning resources during this period. Also, teachers need to be trained on how best to deliver radio lessons. Such training can be done using virtual platforms. Sincere appreciation goes to the teachers working assiduously in delivering lessons on radio despite the short notice and lack of training for such context because teaching in a conventional four-walled classroom is quite different from teaching on radio and so it is important to know how best to carry it out so as to achieve best results. This wakeup call will definitely propel us to keep ruminating on other solutions at bridging the gap of educational inequity during this period and making it happen by all means.
Let us remember that whatever the problem is, education remains the solution. The future is in our hands to decide, let us join hands together to make the world a better place through quality and inclusive education.
The 779 daily toll announced on Saturday is Nigeria’s record one-day infection and it took toll past 24,000 mark. As of Sunday afternoon, reports indicated that an Air Peace flight was repatriating hundreds of stranded Nigerians from the U.K.
Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika on Saturday disclosed that passengers looking to use local flights will need to be at the airport three hours to take off due to safety guidelines as part of flight resumption.
He said in the case of international flights, passengers may even have to be at the airport five hours to take off.
He led the COVID-19 task force for a visit to the Abuja and Lagos airports to access the readiness for flight resumption. “We aill announce all the protocols again before opening. But you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your flight.
“The experience is quite nice but it takes a bit of time which is why you will need to be at the airport three hours before your local flight. For an international flight, we might do five hours,” he added.
Total confirmed cases = 24,077
Total recoveries = 8,625
Total deaths = 558
Active cases = 14,894
Figures valid as of close of day June 27, 2020
Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, today confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19. According to a post on Twitter, he said he was asymptomatic and self isolating.
He now joins Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who also confirmed being infected early this month. Governors Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna, Senator Bala Mohammed of Bauchi and Seyin Makinde of Oyo, have all recovered from the virus.
Over at the presidency, president Muhammadu Buhari led a virtual flagoff of a major gas pipeline. The Ajaokuta – Kaduna – Kano, AAK; gas pipeline project is led by the state oil firm, NNPC.
On the ground, Buhari was represented by the kogi State governor, Yahya Bello who cut the tape to mark the official flag-off of the construction phase of the project.
- Confirmed cases = 25,133
- Active cases = 15,158
- Recoveries = 9,402
- Number of deaths = 573
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 29, 2020
Abuja) – Nigeria’s federal and state governments should ensure the rights to food, shelter, and other basic necessities for people losing jobs or income during the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic assistance that the government has announced in response to the virus has exposed inadequacies in Nigeria’s social protection systems and risks excluding the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
President Muhammadu Buhari announced on April 13, 2020 that a lockdown, in place since March 30 in Lagos state, neighboring Ogun state, and Abuja, the nation’s capital, would continue for another 14 days. As of April 12, Nigeria had 343 confirmed cases. Several other state governments, including Rivers, Kaduna, and Ekiti, have also initiated full or partial lockdowns.
“Millions of Nigerians observing the COVID-19 lockdown lack the food and income that their families need to survive,” said Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to combine public health measures with efforts to prevent the pandemic from destroying the lives and livelihoods of society’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
Nigeria has the biggest economy in Africa, with gross domestic product per capita of $2,028 in 2018, more than twice that of its neighbors Benin, Chad, or Niger. It is also a highly unequal country. In 2010, the Gini coefficient of income per capita that is used to measure inequality was 49, notably above the international alert line of 40 that warns about the negative social, economic, and political consequences. Economic data suggest that levels of inequality have not improved since.
The lockdown does not apply to those providing essential services, such as food distributors and retailers, including market stalls selling food and groceries, which the government has said can operate for four hours every 48 hours.
The lockdown, however, prevents many Nigerians working in informal sectors from traveling to work or conducting their business. Local food vendors and traders have expressed fears over their ability to feed their families during the lockdown, with their daily earnings their only source of sustenance. An increase in food prices as a result of the lockdown also means that many cannot stock up on necessities.
“The vast majority of people outside of the formal system are hit devastatingly by the lockdown,” said Felix Morka, executive director of the Social Economic Rights Action Center, a Lagos-based nongovernmental organization. “Any disruption to their daily livelihood has a huge and significant impact on their ability to meet their most basic needs.”
The informal sector, in which more than 80 percent of Nigerians work, includes a wide range of occupations, from street traders, taxi drivers, tradesmen, and artisans to food vendors and hairdressers. In Lagos alone, according to research by nongovernmental organizations, 65 percent of the estimated 25 million people work in the informal sector. Informal workers have lower incomes, often do not have savings, health insurance, or pensions that provide a basic social safety net, and 72 percent are poor.
When announcing the lockdown, President Buhari said the government would put in place measures to “preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity.” He said that “the most vulnerable in our society” would receive conditional cash transfers for the next two months, while Sadiya Umar Farouq, minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development said that food rations would be distributed to vulnerable households.
On April 1, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry began paying 20,000 Naira (US$ 52) to families registered in the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Households set up by the Buhari administration in 2016 to combat poverty. The government said that each family on the register will receive monthly cash payments for four months.
These payments are likely to reach only a fraction of the Nigerians who will need economic assistance, Human Rights Watch said. Farouq said on March 31 that the National Social Register included 11,045,537 people from 2,644,493 households, far fewer than the over 90 million Nigerians estimated to live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 a day. Buhari said on April 13 that the National Social Register would be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million in the next two weeks.
The government’s failure to disclose key details of the cash transfer program has also cast doubt on how many people it includes and who will benefit, Human Rights Watch said. On April 4, the Social and Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP), a nongovernmental organization, filed a freedom of information request seeking details on the government’s relief funds. “We are seriously concerned that millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have not benefited from the announced palliatives, donations, reported cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits,” the group said. Under Nigeria’s freedom of information law, the government must provide the information within seven days.
On April 8, the government announced that 77,000 metric tons of food will be distributed to vulnerable households affected by the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, but the modalities for distribution are not yet clear. Buhari has directed the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry to develop a strategy to maintain the school feeding program that, before schools began closing on March 19, the government said fed 9 million pupils across the country. Lagos state’s government also said on March 27 that it would provide food packages to 200,000 households during the lockdown.
Nigeria’s other major economic responses to COVID-19 may not adequately protect the rights of the people most likely to lack adequate food, shelter, and other essentials, Human Rights Watch said. Nigeria’s Central Bank has announced a 50 billion Naira (US$ 128.5 million) targeted credit facility “to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The credit facility, through which households can potentially get up to 3 million Naira loans (US$7,700), requires proof of collateral, such as personal property, which many poor families are unlikely to have. The loans also come with five percent interest initially and nine percent after March 2021. Only 40 million Nigerians, 25 percent of the population, have a bank account.
The House of Representatives on March 24 passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus bill, 2020 to provide a 50 percent tax rebate for employers and business owners who agree to not make staff cuts in 2020. While the bill, if it goes into effect, may prevent job losses in the formal sector, it contains no provisions for informal workers.
Under international human rights law, Nigeria’s government has an obligation to protect people’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food and nutrition, the highest attainable standard of health, and the right to social security. In times of economic crisis, countries must demonstrate that they have made every effort to mobilize all available resources, including international assistance, and allocate them in the way that maximizes respect for human rights, including by taking into account the precarious situation of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals or groups. Governments are obligated to ensure access to food, water, health care, and other basic needs for everyone at all times, and in particular those subject to lockdown and other severe restrictions on movement.
Nigeria’s federal government should urgently develop a plan to deliver social and economic assistance to the tens of millions of people who will lose income due to COVID-19, particularly informal workers who lack an adequate social safety net, Human Rights Watch said. Their exclusion from social protections violates their right to social security enshrined in international human rights law. This plan should be developed in consultation with community-based organizations with experience serving people living in poverty.
The government should also clearly communicate its economic relief plans to the public and clarify eligibility, timelines, and procedures.
“Nigeria’s federal and state governments have acknowledged the devastating impact that COVID-19 will have on the food and livelihood sources of the most vulnerable Nigerians,” Ewang said. “Now, they need to deploy more resources, creativity, and transparency to ensure the basic necessities of life for everyone.”
More than $182 million is needed to sustain lifesaving aid to Africa’s most populous country over the next six months, the World Food Programme (WFP) said.
“We are concerned by conflict-affected communities in northeast Nigeria who already face extreme hunger and who are especially vulnerable. They are on life-support and need assistance to survive,” said Elisabeth Byrs, WFP senior spokesperson, in reference to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The three so-called BAY states, have been plagued by a decade-long insurgency that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region.
It remains among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with some 7.9 million mainly women and children in need of urgent assistance today.
“That’s why WFP is distributing now two months’ worth of food and nutrition assistance in IDP camps and among vulnerable communities to ensure that people have enough food while they are on full or partial lockdown”, Ms Byrs said, outlining plans to help a total of 1.8 million people there.
Needs are great nationally too, the UN agency has warned, linked to a steep drop in international oil prices – Nigeria’s major export commodity – since the outbreak of the virus.
To date, latest World Health Organization (WHO) data indicates that the country has seen more than 12,800 confirmed cases of new coronavirus and over 360 deaths linked to the respiratory disease.
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More than 3.8 million people mainly working in the informal sector, face losing their jobs amid rising hardship, Ms. Byrs said, and this could rise to 13 million if movement restrictions continue for a longer period.
“This would add to the almost 20 million (23 per cent of the labour force) already out of work,” the WFP spokesperson said.
“In a country where about 90 million people – 46 per cent of the population – live on less than $2 a day, this is a real concern”, Ms. Byrs continued. “The urban poor who depend on a daily wage to feed themselves and their families have been very hit by movement restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.”
Three million individuals among the most vulnerable, will receive help, the WFP spokesperson explained, with additional support to government social protection systems in the cities of Abuja, Kano and Lagos – places where the agency has not been present until now.
“We are actually scaling up our operations in the Northeast to serve more people in response to the new challenges of more food insecurity posed by COVID-19”, said Ms Byrs. “However, there have been a few delays with COVID-19 containment movement restrictions that are affecting supply chains. These have been generally managed and we have continued providing assistance. We continue to appeal to all parties to ensure access to people in need and respect humanitarian space.”
Take-home food solution
WFP’s involvement has included re-adjusting school meals programmes during school closures by providing food to take home.
The initiative kicked off in the federal capital Abuja and the commercial capital Lagos, in mid-May.
The programme – led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs – aims to reach nine million children in three million homes across the country’s 36 states, where school closures have affected some 39 million youngsters.
The urban poor remain the focus of the scheme, including the floating slum community of Makoko, where tens of thousands of people live cheek by jowl, on stilt houses in a village on the outskirts of Lagos.
‘No money to feed my children’
“When the Government said nobody should go anywhere, I couldn’t go to the market”, said fish-seller and mother-of-four, Marceline Wanu, who is 25. “But when I couldn’t go to the market, there was no money to feed my children sometimes and that is very painful. My children received food when they were going to school but when their schools closed, that became an extra burden. But since they gave use some food, it has helped us a bit.”
President Muhammadu Buhari today received a briefing from the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19. The meeting comes as the second phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown ends.
The second phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown was for an initial period of four weeks – spanning June 2nd – 29th. It has been extended for another month spanning June 30 to July 27.
The chairman of the PTF said the taskforce remained: “committed to striking a delicate balance between lives and livelihood. Mr. President has carefully considered and approved that with the exception of some modifications, Phase 2 of the Eased Lockdown will be extended for another 4 weeks : 30 June – 27 July 2020.”
In the second phase, government had relaxed restrictions on banking operations and worship places. For the next four weeks inter state travel outside curfew hours will be allowed.
President Buhari has today approved the re-opening of schools only for students of graduating classes, to allow them prepare for examinations. That is, Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3.
The PTF stressed that all Daycare and Primary schools to remain closed until further evaluation, except for Common Entrance pupils. All Secondary and Tertiary Institutions remain closed.
Arrangements to be made for exiting students resume as soon as possible for preparation for exams. Local air services are also expected to be restarted “as soon as practicable.”
Following this presentation, PMB has approved the following:
Phase 2 of Eased Lockdown will be extended for another 4 weeks (June 30–July 27)
— tolu ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) June 29, 2020
The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha; also in attendance was Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu and the Director General of the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Federal government had retained the nationwide curfew but the time was reduced from 10pm to 4am, to limit social interactions and, therefore, reduce the risk of the transmissions of the virus which is now on community transmission level.
- Confirmed cases = 24,567
- Active cases = 14,995
- Recoveries = 9,007
- Number of deaths = 565
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 28, 2020
National coordinator of Nigeria’s virus task force, Sani Aliyu, says the number of cases in Nigeria is far more than has so far been detected. He stressed the need for people to respect containment measures and do all it takes to stay safe and not contract the virus.
Speaking at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja on THursday, he said: “Many countries in the world are fighting this pandemic. Over nine million people have tested positive, not suspicion, but tested positive for the disease and at least 22,000 of them are in Nigeria,” he said.
“There are thousands more in our country. For everyone case, there are a handful of cases that we are missing because we are not able to test everybody. The containment measures that were put in place to protect the public, are there to protect the public, they’re not there to swindle them.
“No sane country on earth will destroy its own economy willingly. No sane country on earth will take major decisions that they know would be detrimental to their economy. So we’re living in really challenging times and we couldn’t have taken these decisions just on the basis of maybe suspicion that a disease exists.
“This disease does exist. Whether we like it or not, it exists. If we want to survive it, we have to start believing in it.”
According to Aliyu, if people believed Ebola and Lassa fever without experiencing it first-hand, then there was no reason to doubt the existence of COVID-19 in the country.
“We do not need to know someone personally who has died from COVID-19 to believe it is real. In fact, I think it is a disservice and it is insensitive to those families that have lost loved ones for people to continue to claim that COVID-19 does not exist,” he said.
“Let us not wait for the virus to reach disastrous proportions before we begin to believe and act. We have already seen this happen in many other countries. We must learn from their experiences to mitigate preventable fatalities.”
- Confirmed cases = 22,614
- Active cases = 14,243
- Recoveries = 7,822
- Number of deaths = 549
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 25, 2020
Nigeria looks set to hit the 20,000 mark after cases reached 19,808 on Saturday. Recoveries are at 6,718 with 12,584 active cases and 506 deaths.
Government has meanwhile released payments made in lieu of Special Hazard Allowance to over 55,000 health workers. The presidency said in a tweet today that N4,642,485,146.00 (4.642 billion Naira) has so far been paid in 35 Covid-19 designated hospitals and medical centres. Additional payments are currently being processed.
Reports indicate that governors have reached an agreement with striking resident doctors to resume their duties. The upcoming reopening of airports and resumption of local flights has also been postponed.
– 10% of Consolidated Basic Salary to Non-Health Professionals engaged
in those centres
– 20% of Consolidated Basic Salary as special allowance to all health workers directly managing Covid-19 patients in Treatment and Isolation Centres.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) June 21, 2020
Confirmed cases = 19,808
Active cases = 12,584
Number of deaths = 509
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 20, 2020
The NCDC on Monday reported the unveiling of a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine to boost COVID-19 testing in the country.
The machine is expected to help boost testing as the government looks to boost testing capacity to 3,000 per day. The facility is stationed at the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), a campus of the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Lagos.
The machine was procured using part of the £661,000 UKAid funding the British government donated to the Nigeria branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year.
In his remarks at the unveiling, Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of NCDC, said the machine will help in achieving the centre’s goal to test over two million people over the next three months. The NCDC confirmed that total samples tesed as of June 22 stood at 117,569.
Nigeria has been beneficiary of international assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO, EU, UK and US have all advanced assistance in terms of materials and funds.
- Confirmed cases = 20,919
- Active cases = 13,285
- Recoveries = 7,109
- Number of deaths = 525
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 22, 2020
Nigeria’s case load passed the 19,000 mark as of close of day June 19 with over 660 new cases recorded across the country. Deaths reached 487 and recoveries reached 6,581 according to the NCDC.
Foreign Affairs Minister today presented a communique detailing the second evacuation flight from the United States to Nigeria, which flight is scheduled for July 3.
The June 17 statement by the Consulate of Nigeria in New York said the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET509 will depart Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Friday July 3 and is expected to arrive in Lagos the following day.
Some of the guidelines include buying tickets directly from the airline operator, forwarding names to the consulate for processing, having a COVID-19 test result of not older than 14 days. Carrying hygiene supplies and undergoing a temperature check hours before boarding.
All evacuees will also be expected to observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine under the supervision of relevant authorities upon their return to Nigeria.
- Confirmed cases = 19,147
- Active cases = 12,079
- Recoveries =6,581
- Number of deaths = 487
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of June 19, 2020
Nigeria hit the 18,000 mark as of close of day June 18 as deaths reached 475 and recoveries hit 6,307 according to the NCDC.
Meanwhile there is what could be described as a flurry of evacuee arrivals in the capital Abuja and Lagos with a number of citizens arriving from across the world.
The diaspora commission, NIDCOM, reported on Thursday that an Air France flight departed Paris to Lagos with 15 Nigerians on board from France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Estonia. They are said to have registered for the evacuation with the Nigerian Missions in these countries.
NIDCOM today reported that 50 stranded Nigerians in Pakistan landed in Abuja, at about 01:45 via Tarco Air. Another 300 stranded Nigerians arrived at the Abuja Airport from Dubai.
- Confirmed cases = 18,480
- Number of deaths = 475
- Recoveries = 6,307
- Active cases = 11,698
Stats valid as of close of day June 18, 2020
The government has underlined the centrality of the media’s role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Information Minister Lai Mohammed, however, appealed for more support.
He was speaking on Tuesday in a virtual meeting with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN). ”The government is very grateful to the media. You have done a lot to bring our message (on the pandemic) to Nigerians,” he said.
He cited a poll that said 99% of Nigerians are aware of the pandemic while 95% had received information on how to protect themselves.
According to the minister, the sole preventive option available remained the Non Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI), so long as the search for a drug and vaccine continued. He urged citizens to practice physical distancing, wearing of face mask, and avoiding mass gathering whiles ensuring personal hygiene.
“You see, the truth of the matter is that as long as there is no vaccine or drug for Covid-19, the only way we can all survive is through the Non Pharmaceutical Intervention, which is actually anchored on advocacy and public sensitization and there is no way you can do this without the media in whatever form, whether it is the print, electronic or the New Media.
“Yes we are going to spend more on research and ventilators but we will spend less money on ventilators, less on isolation centres if we invest just a fraction of what we are spending on ventilators in the media,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile cases reached 17,148 as of close of day June 16. Testing has increased to almost 100,000 samples, NCDC records say. A paltry sum compared to South Africa’s over 1.1 million tests till date.
Confirmed cases = 17,148
Active cases = 11,070
Recoveries = 5,623
Deaths = 455
John Hopkins Uni stats valid as of close of day June 16, 2020
The government has developed a three-year Health Sector Response plan for the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire disclosed yesterday. The fine details of the plan are yet to be given.
Speaking at the daily PTF briefing in Abuja, he stressed that the virus was likely to stay around for long while and thus it was imperative that citizens master the art of living with it.
“We have developed a Health Sector Response Plan to cover the next 3 years divided into near, medium and long term.”
He also reiterated federal efforts aimed at boosting capacity of states in responding adequately to the virus. “Efforts are ongoing to increase the number of labs with priority given to states that do not have PCR labs including Cross River and Kogi states.”
Meanwhile the controversy relating to how musician Naira Marley managed to fly from Lagos to Abuja was unravelled yesterday when Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika disclosed that an operator, Executive Jets, has misled the authorities in the episode.
Operations of the flight company have been suspended indefinitely, will also be fined. Flight Captain will also be sanctioned for providing false information.
“Going forward we willl escalate the mechanisms we have in place, and we will be stricter in our approvals (and enforcement),” the Minister stressed.
Aviation authorities had given approval for a judge to be allowed to move from Lagos to Abuja for official duties unbeknownst to them, ExecuJet had instead flown Naira Marley and his entourage to Abuja for a concert that was not authorized.
It subsequently degenerated leading to outrage on social media after social distancing regulations were breached. The FCT authorities have since shut down the venue.
Total confirmed cases = 16,658
Total recoveries = 5,349
Total deaths = 424
Active cases = 10,885
Figures valid as of close of day June 15, 2020