*As FG Plans Tough Actions Against Third Wave
*Another Lockdown Will Shrink Govt Revenues, Affect Private Sector, Citizens-NESG
Ade-Ade Bosun, Abuja
Nigeria’s major and relevant economic stakeholders have expressed worries over the possibility of another Covid-19 lockdown. In separate statements, the stakeholders, comprising the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI and Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ACCI, gave reasons for their fears while speaking to newsmen on Monday.
Their statements are in response to Monday’s declarations by the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 that it was set to take drastic measures to rein in the infection spread of the virus. According to them, another lockdown has the potentials of negatively impacting on both the country’s economy and citizenry.
Chief Executive Officer of NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola, posited that the country cannot afford another lockdown as, according to him, it will have huge adverse effects on government revenues, affect the private sector and the common citizen.
“The country cannot afford another lockdown. It will shrink government revenues, affect the private sector and the common citizen. The Delta variant is dangerous and has led to so many deaths. We need to be serious with wearing masks and complying with social distancing guidelines,”
The government, he said, “…needs to be proactive with setting up our manufacturing capacity for the vaccines. We should be able to pull resources together to produce our own and distribute them effectively,” he advised.
LCCI Director General, Dr Chinyere Almona, reiterated the point that any lockdown will impede adversely on the growth projections for the country.
“With the level of worsening insecurity, scarce foreign exchange, and falling foreign direct investment inflows, a third wave of COVID-19 pandemic that may lead to any form of lockdown will be inhibitive to the growth projections for Nigeria.
With the 0.51 per cent growth recorded in the first quarter, we need to achieve a real Gross Domestic Growth, GDP, growth rate of at least three per cent for the remaining part of 2021 to achieve the latest projected growth rate of 2.5 per cent year-on-year by the International Monetary Fund. Recall that the Nigerian economy exited recession in the fourth quarter of 2020 with a modest 0.11 per cent growth, followed by a marginal increase in growth rate to 0.51 per cent in the first quarter of 2021. Any further disruptions to the production output in our economy may result in dismal growth rates in the third and fourth quarters of 2021,” Dr Almona analysed.
According to the LCCI boss, the country cannot afford a third wave Covid-19 lockdown as it’s potentials for damages far outweigh its good intention s.
“Nigeria cannot afford a third wave COVID-19 lockdown in 2021. The government’s plan to reduce poverty means that we need growth that supports job creation and fiscal policies to drive more revenue generation. A lockdown will simply disrupt these plans.”
Rather than a lockdown, Dr Almona advised the different tiers of governments, particularly federal and states, to lay emphasis on enforcing relevant infection prevention protocols.
“We call on government at all levels to enforce existing safety protocols to avoid the possibility of a lockdown that destroyed many businesses in the past,” the ACCI President, Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, told one of our correspondents in Abuja.
Enforcement should henceforth be a matter of priority as Nigeria cannot afford another lockdown. The vaccination campaign should also be intensified just as there should be no slowing down on the awareness campaign,” he surmised.
Meanwhile, the country has taken delivery of about four million doese of the Moderna vaccines from the United States of America. The consignment arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Sunday. It was received by Unicef representatives on behalf of he federal government.
While inspecting the vaccine at the National Strategic Cold Store, Abuja, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaibu, noted that has since restores its capacity to store the vaccine given that appropriate cold chain management is key to its effectiveness. Moderna vaccine remains stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F) for 30 days.
“Nigeria can store COVID-19 vaccines including the Moderna vaccine. Nigerian government had earlier acquired an additional 60 ultra-cold freezers that would accommodate both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
According to him, the next step is for the vaccines to go through efficacy test evaluation by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, adding that the process is expected to take 48-hours.
Speaking through its representative, Dr Melissa Freeman, the US government noted that the donation is meant to boost Nigeria’s vaccination rollout campaign.