Civil Society groups in Nigeria have asked the Federal Government of Nigeria to refrain from banning Nigerians from returning home in these difficult times, even though it was obvious that this is a time for “drastic measures to protect the country and a fragile health system that has been neglected for too many years.”
In a statement on Tuesday signed by 21 different organisations, the coalition expressed concern over “the recent announcement that a third case has been diagnosed in Lagos and called for a more stringent measure in protecting our borders and managing movement in and out of Nigeria”.
In the joint statement, the group urged the Federal Government of Nigeria and States to act fast like other countries as the spread of the virus “is the most urgent of national security matters”
Read their statement below:
Civil Society Statement on Coronavirus in Nigeria
Civil Society groups in Nigeria are deeply worried that Nigeria continues to be exposed to both visitors and returning Nigerians traveling from areas heavily exposed to corona virus. The recent announcement that a third case has been diagnosed in Lagos calls for a more stringent measure in protecting our borders and managing movement in and out of Nigeria.
We cannot and should not contemplate banning Nigerians from returning home in these difficult times, but it is obvious that it is time for drastic measures to protect our country and a fragile health system that has been neglected for too many years.
The Federal Government and States must recognize like other countries that this is the most urgent of national security matters
We call for the following steps immediately:
· Restriction to only essential travellers coming from any country overseas that has an on-going outbreak of Corona virus
· For both Nigerians returning home and any travellers deemed essential by the Nigerian government there must be mandatory and closely monitored self-isolation or quarantine measures for at least two weeks
· NCDC should immediately receive funds that will be adequate for it to radically scale activities and make a major urgent investment in testing for corona virus
· State Governments should move immediately to provide their own technical teams with adequate resources for an effective response to a health emergency and any state that has not acted yet should be pressured to do so immediately
· Effort should be put in place to closely monitor our land borders and ensure basic health protocols for prevention of corona virus spread
· Governments at all levels (Federal, state and local) should consider immediate measures to limit public gatherings and promote safe social contacts amongst citizens.
We make these positions known conscious of the tireless efforts of frontline workers of NCDC, State and Federal ministries. These teams must be better resourced immediately, and adequate life insurance policies put in place for them. We need both the Federal Government and State Governors to act to forestall unnecessary losses of life.
As has become apparent internationally, if we act boldly and decisively as a nation corona virus outbreaks can be contained, albeit with considerable difficulty. Delay or inadequate responses are disastrous. Vigilance will be vital, and we must understand that Nigerians returning to our shores need to be as vigilantly monitored and assisted as any visitors.
We are aware that a number of capacities in Nigeria need to improve – such as resources for testing widely for corona virus should an outbreak occur. Making such resources available should be a national priority for all appropriate levels of government.
Finally, we call on Nigerians to note the advice that has just been issued by NCDC on social events, given that the moment of corona virus not entering Africa has passed. By being cautious early we can protect our country from undetected outbreaks spreading dramatically. We will need to work together as a society, and we will need to work with our neighbouring countries to protect each other in this time of danger. This risk will not pass swiftly so we must already prepare ourselves for a long year ahead but one where we can sustain each other through mutual support and open dialogue as we face each challenge.
1. Policy and Legislative Advocacy Centre
2. Centre for Liberty
3. Stakeholders Democracy Network SDN
4. Silverchip Fox
6. Butterfly Effect Empowerment Initiative
7. YIAGA Africa
8. Concerned Nigerians
9. Free Nigeria Movement
10. Adopt A Goal Initiative
11. Dinidari Foundation
12. Rule of Law Development Foundation
13. Education as a Vaccine
14. Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER)
15. Centre for Democracy Development
16. Girl Child Africa
17. Tap Nitiative
18. Centre for Impact Advocacy (CiA)
19. Raising New Voices Initiative
20. Global Rights
21. Connected Development (CODE)