An economist, Dr Boniface Chizea, on Saturday in Lagos urged the Federal Government to consider gradual unlocking of sectors of the economy as it continues to fight COVID-19 spread.
Chizea, the Managing Director of BIC Consultancy Services, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that gradual unlocking of the economy would prevent desperation, irrational and anti-social actions from the citizens.
BIC Management Consultancy Company offers consultancy services to organisations including the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company.
Chizea hailed the federal and state governments for efforts in fighting the pandemic.
He noted that the lockdown was necessary but urged that it could be gradually eased to save the economy.
“More farmers, for instance, should be able to go back to farms,” he said.
“We need to ensure we do not miss the planting season; otherwise, we would be inviting hunger.
“As most countries are going to be facing similar challenges, the option of food importation might not be there even if we are able to find the funds to do so.
“This is one strong reason to acknowledge the initiative of the Central Bank with its Anchor Borrowers programme, which has made the country self-sufficient in rice production among other staple products,” he said.
The economist said that the government should, however, continue enforcing the social distancing order to prevent COVID-19 spread.
Chizea said that financial services providers and telecommunications services providers could operate without attracting crowds of people.
He added that eateries and food vendors could also offer home services or takeaways to avoid crowd.
He advised that supermarkets should be allowed to open with all necessary safety protocols observed.
Chizea said that elite recreational centres could re-open under a strict condition that they should avoid crowd-pulling events at the moment.
He advised that markets should be allowed to open on selected days with adequate precautionary measures observed in place.
“We have a very large informal market with a sizable proportion of the population who are youths engaged in that sector, and if they don’t work, they won’t eat,” he said.
Chizea advised that states where no index case had been reported should continue to close borders to prevent spread of COVID-19 into them.
According to him, wearing of face masks should be enforced.
Chizea advised that regular washing of hands with soap under running water should be sustained.
He urged increased testing for COVID-19 to isolate those infected and trace their contacts.
He urged the government to increase testing capacity.
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