‘Hunger will be next deadly virus’ —Gov. Ayade opposes total lockdown

Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River state, says hunger will be the next deadly virus if the livelihoods of citizens are not guaranteed during the lockdown.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, extended the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, and the federal capital territory (FCT) by two weeks to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

But in a statement in Calabar, the state capital, by Christian Ita, special adviser to Ayade on media and publicity, the governor said as the federal government is making effort to protect the lives of citizens, their means of livelihood should also be sustained.

“Protecting lives without protecting livelihoods of Nigerians will spell doom for the nation after COVID-19 as hunger will be the next deadly virus. Globally, hunger and hunger-related diseases like kwashiorkor and tuberculosis kill about 8.4 million people every year and so there is more pandemic when it comes to hunger,” Ayade said.

“So, we will do all we can to curtail the pandemic from spreading to our state and protect lives too, but protection of lives without the protection of livelihoods is a complete imbalance. There must be a holy matrimony between protection of lives and protection of livelihoods.

“Some of our brothers and sisters depend on daily work. If you carry blocks for a living, the day you are stopped from going to work, there will be no money to feed the children.

“We are preparing ourselves for the post coronavirus era when the planting season is just coming with the onset of the rains.

“We have prepared ourselves to be the biggest rice producers in the country with the Ogoja rice mill which is the most professional and the first vitaminized rice mill in Africa, and is currently undergoing a dry test and by May we should be ready to start milling.”

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