The federal government is actively considering models to gradually reopen the economy following the easing of lockdown and closure of businesses in the last eight weeks.
This comes after the submission of a proposal to reopen the economy to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and her counterpart in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
The proposal consists of different options and models to reopen the economy, we learnt.
Our checks also revealed among others, the federal government believes that Nigeria should be prepared to deal with Covid-19 for a long time to come and as such, the country could not afford an indefinite business closures.
The economy was shut down in March following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
But the proposal, also noted that the death rate as a result of the recent easing of the lockdown did not spike dramatically, an indication that the country has so far fared better than most in terms of managing the virus compared to some western countries.
Our sources reveal that, “The proposal takes cognizance of the prevailing death rates in western countries as a result of the disease and noted that Nigeria is not doing so badly.”
Buoyed by this realisation, and the fact that with deaths resulting from Covid-19 not as high as deaths from malaria and other diseases, the ministers believe that the country could manage the disease well if the lockdown is lifted.
The proposal, we further gathered, emphasised that “individuals and businesses will have to take responsibility for their health and be more cautious of what to do and what they don’t in the coming guidelines to be issued by the Federal Govenrment as early as next week.”
The proposal also recommends that different protocols and rules be issued to guide corporate organisations in the course of their operations, adding that manufacturing companies and others, even airports and air travels as well as schools will have their own new protocols.
This, nonetheless, the proposal has yet to make definite recommendations for reopening sporting activities and schools. It however gave indication that the re-opening of schools and sports might take a while, possibly in September.
The recommendations, therefore, suggested a systematic reopening of the economy after which an assessment would be made to consider when to reopen schools and sports.
According to our sources, also being considered is a structure of the Nigerian economy going forward and how best to stern negative impact in a post-Covid economy.
Already the Presidency is also considering the report of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economy Sustainability Committee which is designing a sustainable economic roadmap in the immediate and near terms.
The push to reopen the economy came on the heels of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s expressed desire to fully reopen the economy.
The Governor on Friday said the state government was trying to get the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to allow flights from Lagos to Abuja to operate, following the increasing impact of the closure of the airports on the state’s economy.
Sanwo-Olu lamented that the aviation industry, as well as the entertainment, hospitality and transportation sectors, had been “significantly” affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government on March 23 shut all international airports in the country before it later extended the closure to all airports in the country, banning all local and international flights.
Sanwo-Olu recently issued new guidelines that could help guarantee the safety of residents and contain the spread of the virus as the state begins the second phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown.
The governor disclosed this on Sunday May 18, 2020, during a press briefing on the next steps to be taken in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech, Sanwo-Olu said the Lagos State Government was considering fully re-opening the economy just as it would embark on assessment of the readiness of businesses.
Thus, as part of the guidelines, Lagos would be rolling out a ‘register to open’ initiative, as part of the plans that would enable it assess the level of readiness of the operators in the identified sectors for supervised operations.