Jump to navigation

Vol 61 No 7

Published 2nd April 2020


Nigeria

Lagos takes the lead

After speculation about his health and whether he was even in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a belated televised address on 29 March announcing a lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and its neighbouring Ogun and Osun states. He promised direct payments to the poorest Nigerians, stopped from earning a living by the restrictions, as well as financial relief for small and medium-size companies.

Lauded for its handling of the 2014 Ebola crisis, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), led by Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, is working hard on contact-tracing and setting up coronavirus testing labs around the country.

With over 150 confirmed cases by 1 April, many worry that Nigeria could follow, even surpass, the spread of the virus in Africa's other big economies, Algeria, Egypt and South Africa. Already, it has cut through the country's political class with the President's Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Kaduna State governor Nasir el Rufai, and Bauchi governor Bala Mohammed all testing positive.

In Lagos, Africa's most populous city, state commissioner for health Dr Akin Abayomi has set up a special operations centre for digital tracking and monitoring of cases.

During the lockdown, state government vehicles are disinfecting markets and streets.

Beyond Lagos, Ogun and Osun states and Abuja there are concerns about local capacity to control the outbreak with reports from the respected digital news site Premium Times that the country had only 350 intensive care beds for its 200 million people. Most of them are in private hospitals.

Many banks and big companies are partnering with NCDC to develop mass quarantine shelters. Billionaires such as Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu and Folorunsho Alakija are contributing funds for testing kits, ventilators and building more ICUs. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who ran against Buhari in the 2019 elections, donated 50 million naira (US$128,000) and suggested that an abandoned cancer centre in Abuja be converted to an isolation camp. Commissioned in 2009 by former first lady Turai Yar'adua, the fully furnished facility was never used and the land around was converted into a cowpea farm.

Many worry about the damage wrought by the four-state lockdown, which accounts for over 60% of the national economy, and the ban on inter-state travel.



Related Articles

Wojciech Chodan, Pepys and Shell

The discovery by Halliburton's lawyers Baker Botts of more than 500 pages of notes penned by Wojciech Chodan (a Halliburton consultant and the Samuel Pepys of the energy business) ...


The clock ticks faster

This month, packed with critical meetings, appointments and policy changes, marks the real launch of President Muhammadu Buhari's government. He is due to name the main ministers w...


A split by any other name

A new grand opposition coalition and fresh splits in the President’s party are changing calculations about next year’s elections

The latest round of defections and manoeuvrings in Abuja give weight to the opposition People's Democratic Party announcement that it will lead a new Coalition of United Political ...


Rising hopes, falling revenues

The list of pressing economic problems – oil, power, the naira – is lengthening ahead of Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration on 29 May

It could hardly have been more cordial when a combined team of government and opposition economists from Nigeria arrived in Washington for the Spring Meetings of the International ...

READ FOR FREE

Blame game scuppers reform

After ten years of drafting, the National Assembly has produced an unworkable bill to restructure the petroleum industry 

Plans to modernise the national oil industry have been derailed again by partisan politics and vested interests in a debacle that could cost Nigeria tens of billions of dollars in ...