Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, is highly disturbed about the hasty relaxation of the lockdown announced by various states in the country to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease, ravaging the world in which Nigeria’s case is already pursuing 2,000 with close to 40 deaths.
Incidentally, Anambra, where he was governor for eight years, only on Saturday, announced the complete revocation of impediment of all movements within the state, after 28 days of lockdown, in a broadcast by Governor Willie Obiano.
Obiano, Obi’s protégée and immediate successor, had in a statewide broadcast, ordered the re-opening of all food markets, churches, restaurants and drinking joints, in addition to permitting all vehicles bringing food items into the state, as part of the first phase of getting the state rebound to normal life.
Besides, the governor, said he would be holding a meeting of market leaders to brainstorm on when it would be safe for the markets in the state, where the popular Onitsha Main Market, reputed to be the largest in Africa is domiciled, apart from equally housing other strategic markets catering for traders in Nigeria and beyond.
Regardless, Obi, Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2019 elections, though was not particular about Anambra, advised circumspection towards, saying that such moves if not carefully done would defeat the preventive approach to COVID-19 which the peoples of the world have adopted.
In a statement released by his media office on Sunday signed by Valentine Obienyem, Obi stated that “easing the lockdown in some parts of the country at this stage is not advisable” as a greater percentage of the people had not been tested for the virus infection.
He said that as far as Nigeria is concerned, it appears too early from his assessment to relax the lockdown as this could result to aggressive spread of the virus beyond controllable measures.
Obi urged the government and relevant agencies to focus their energy on getting more Nigerians tested for the virus so as to ascertain the true level of the spread of the virus in the country.
Part of the statement reads: “Let me generally appeal that from all advice locally and internationally, easing the lockdown in any part of the country should be done with extreme caution at this stage. As a country, we have not been able to carry out reasonable number of tests to be able to ascertain the real COVID-19 situation on ground in the country.
“We have only so far conducted less than 10,000 tests when our contemporaries in Africa have done a lot more.”
Obi, who had earlier called on the Federal Government to set up COVID-19 testing centres in every state of the country, reiterated how important it was for every state to have at least one testing centre so as to speed up the testing process.
Speaking of other African countries, Obi said they have done a lot more than Nigeria in ascertaining the true picture of COVID-19 situations in their countries.
“South Africa, the second largest African economy, has tested 161,000 people, confirmed 4361 positive cases and recorded 86 deaths. Egypt has carried out 90,000 tests where 4319 tested positive with 307 deaths recorded. Ghana has conducted 88,188 tests so far, out of which 1279 people tested positive and 10 deaths were recorded.”
“Nigeria has only conducted 10,061 tests with 1182 positive cases confirmed and 35 deaths recorded. This shows that 12% of the total number of people tested in Nigeria were confirmed positive, a worrisome situation that should keep everyone indoors. In South Africa, Egypt and Ghana, a 2.7%, 4.8% and 1.45% of the total number of people tested were confirmed positive respectively. It will be too early to relax in Nigeria,” Obi cautioned.
He advised everyone not to rejoice yet, but rather keep adhering to the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and other health experts.