The sub-committee of the Economic Sustainability Committee led by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has proposed the easing of the current COVID-19 lockdown in some states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The committee is recommending that the government implements a gradual unlocking of movement and activities in the affected areas.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had during a nationwide broadcast on March 28, ordered a complete lockdown for 14 days in Lagos, Ogun, and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja starting from March 29 as a measure to contain the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The President also extended the lockdown for another 14 days starting from April 13 as transmission of the virus was said to be spreading to communities and the extension was expected to expire today, April 27.
There have been outcries by many Nigerians over the attendant hardship occasioned by the restriction of movements and the shutdown of economic activities in virtually every state of the federation.
However, the subcommittee of the Economic Sustainability Committee led by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has allegedly proposed a gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The subcommittee will be meeting with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, and the Presidential Economic Advisory Council this week for further consultation.
The committee which has met four times since it was constituted by President Buhari is expected to submit its interim report this week.
A source privy to the meeting said that “the Fashola led subcommittee of the Economic Sustainability committee has proposed the easing of the current COVID-19 lockdown in some states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. They are recommending that the government implements a gradual unlocking of movement and activities in the affected areas and to only continue the measures where necessary. ”
The source further said,” The committee is recommending that farmers who are between the ages of 18 and above should be allowed to commence business and observe social distancing while those who are 60 years and above to still remain at home.
“Also recommended to start their business are those in Agric Processing such as Rice and Flour Mills.
“Others are transporters and eateries but the eateries must be packaged in form of take away. Drinking Joints (beer parlours) will not be allowed to resume business.”
Asked whether the committee was planning to allow civil servants to resume work, the source said that the committee was still studying the situation especially as some of them are health workers.
“The committee will be meeting with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and the Presidential Economic Advisory Council this week before it submits the interim report.”
Recall that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is the Chairman of the Economic Sustainability Committee met with the sub-committee last week.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande in a statement said the meeting discussed President Buhari’s economic sustainability plan.
The statement read, “In furtherance of the work of the Economic Sustainability Committee, the Vice President met today with a group of Ministers who were directed by the President to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a Nigerian Economy functioning with COVID–19.
“The President had asked that the Economic Sustainability Committee should support the said Ministers in executing the directive.
“Today, the Vice President proceeded with the Ministers of Industry, Trade, and Investment; Communication and Digital Economy; Science and Technology; Transportation; Aviation; Interior; Health; Works and Housing; Labour and Employment; and Education on the work of coordinating the efforts in order to produce a comprehensive Economic Sustainability Plan that will turn the current economic challenges into opportunities for the Nigerian people as envisioned by the President.
“Next week, the Economic Sustainability Committee will also be meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council ahead of the completion and submission of its report to the President.”