The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank says government at all levels in Nigeria should fully re-open the economy in the light of declining economic growth and other emerging realities.
In a statement made available to BusinessDay on Wednesday, the organisation says achieving the next level, which is the third scenario of COVID-19 response, should be the target of government and citizens in the short and medium terms.
Anap notes it is critical to fully re-open the Nigerian economy, given the devastating collapse of the GDP in second quarter (Q2) 2020.
The economic growth of Africa’s most populous nation slumped by 6.10 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in Q2 2020, ending a three-year trend of low but positive real growth rates since the 2016/17 recession, according to the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) report released on Monday.
“A 6.1 percent year-on-year real GDP drop is worse than we were expecting and has conclusively exposed the fragility of our economy and its inability to cope with disruptive lockdowns and needless curfews,” Anap explains.
The organisation recommends that in re-opening the economy, local channels such as town criers, civil societies, religious and opinion leaders, youth organisations, influencers and volunteer networks must be better engaged by designing social and behaviour change communication (BCC) interventions, with consideration for the need to tailor interventions and age-appropriate messaging to different communities and groups.
Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases reached 52,800 on August 25, with 1,007 deaths and 39,964 recoveries. The country’s recovery rate is 76 percent while death-to- cases is 1.9 percent. Globally, cases reached 24.22 million on the same day, with 826,772 deaths and 16.7 million recoveries. Global recovery is 69 percent, less than Nigeria’s recovery rate of 76 percent.
ANAP says that the country must now re-open the economy fully as there is a reasonable basis for believing that sub-Saharan Africa will be spared from the worst possible COVID-19 outcomes.
It urges the government to plan for and be prepared for clusters and outbreaks due to absence of disciplined risk mitigation through adherence to personal hygiene, masking and social distancing when possible.
It calls for innovative BCC strategies to overcome widespread myths and misconceptions among the citizens.
It stresses the need to strengthen the coordination of the national response units, such as the port health services and immigration at international airports, the COVID-19 test centres, mobile teams and communication arms for better efficiency in order to build better trust among the citizens and secure their buy-in.
“The opinion of most Nigerians now is that the COVID-19 response is as chaotic and inefficient as many other aspects of our national life,” ANAP, which helps Nigeria respond appropriately to the pandemic, further states.
It admonishes government at all levels to improve the current funding of the COVID-19 response in particular and the health system in general as a commitment to ensuring national health security.