A group of professionals researching the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic has lamented that the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus especially the restriction on Inter-state movement was not helpful to the economy.
Instead, the group under the umbrella of COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Center, said that the security agencies mostly benefitted from the lockdown, as they were collecting money from motorists allowing them to operate despite the restriction of movement.
Consequently, the COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Center has called on the government to lift the lockdown to allow the flow of economic activities. It also advised the government to put in place machinery that would enforce all the protocols to curb the spread of the virus.
This is as the elder statesman, Alhaji Buba Galadima has said that about 90 percent of Nigerians do not believe that Coronavirus exists but warned that nobody should pray to come in contact with those infected by the virus.
Alhaji Galadima also advised religious leaders to respect the protocols issued by the government, stressing that the protocols were for self-preservation.
Speaking at the unveiling of the COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Center, Chairman of the group, Dr. Onwubuya John Abraham stated that the country still has a long way to go as only about 58,000 people which was two percent of a population of about two hundred million have been tested for the virus.
He explained that the COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Centre is a think-tank research-based organization made up of concerned civil society and Faith-based Organizations, institutions, academics, and Individuals who are united in the purpose of kicking coronavirus out of Nigeria.
He said that the COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Centre is concerned with the implication and the danger of the spread and effects of the pandemic on the populace, adding that the centre feels that the fight against the invisible monster is a collective responsibility that should not be left on the shoulders of government alone.
According to him, “The primary objective of this organization is to complement the existing structures put in place to fight COVID-19 pandemic, devoid of political and religious affiliations.
“Essentially, the centre is not political and as such prepared to represent the interest of all Nigerians, devoid of Regionalism, Nepotism, Ethnicity, and Geo-political Sentiments, but would be more focused on providing Nigerians with facts and figures about the impact of COVID-19 and its after-effects on the country as well as provide professional and technical advice from independent perspectives to governments at all levels and other relevant stakeholders accordingly.
“There are several issues that have baffled scholars over the COVID-19 pandemic; first, scholars and researchers in other parts of the world, in Italy to be specific, have contended that the COVID-19 is a bacteria, in sharp contrast to the World Health Organization’s(WHO) held and disseminated view that COVID-19 is a virus.
“The discovery has suggested alternative ways of treatment which are directly opposing to the WHO suggestions that had led to thousands of deaths. On another hand, heads of governments of countries badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are accusing WHO of collaborating with China in a callous campaign to destabilize world-leading economies and possibly change the world order.
“Secondly, there have been insinuations on the possibility of the existence of different mutations or species of COVID-19 in different parts of the world. Scientists around the world, both natural and social, have speculated on the possibility of different species of the virus being released or dispatched to different parts of the world at different times from the hatchment center in Wuhan?
“Others have speculated on the mutation capacity inherent in the COVID-19 that enables it to change especially with regions and temperature. Initially, WHO scientists in Wuhan talked of the resistance of Black Africans’ genes to COVID-19 in China, but in the end, all African Countries now have at least an index case, while African Americans are said to be the populations worst hit by the pandemic in the United States despite their population being in the minority there.
“Thirdly, in Nigeria, there appear to be more than one or two species of the COVID-19; the killing COVID-19 and the COVID-19 that is merely symptomatic or without any symptoms at all. In many other African countries, the story seems to be the same or with little variations.
“If this is so, will the COVID-19 be regarded and treated as a pandemic as it concerns the whole world, or as an epidemic as it is relative to different countries and regions of the world?
“In this regard, therefore, it becomes imperative for Nigeria to join the rest of the world in the quest for answers or solutions to some or all of these questions.
“There are researches currently on the COVID-19 all over the world, but this researches cannot be complete without a thorough couching of the Nigerian experience in the whole pandemic.
“The research cannot start without accurate collecting and collating of data as a necessary prerequisite that will aid present and future researchers on the COVID-19 experience.
“COVID-19 pandemic accentuates the urgent need for collaboration, coordination, and information sharing among researchers all over the world. The pandemic has thrown up many questions to scientists of all the natural sciences, as well as many social questions.
“Collaborations are now growing across disciplines as those who are studying the human and societal impacts of this crisis are joining the efforts of those working on discovering the medical cure and vaccines for COVID-19. The world is working at building a global registry for public health and social sciences research.
“Nigeria is not left out in this challenge as many academics and civil society organizations have risen to the challenge. The COVID-19 Situation Room and Research Center – Nigeria is a response to the clarion call on all Nigerians to rise and complement the efforts of Government in the fight against COVID-19.
“The aim is to systematically collate broad and specific data from all the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, and to highlight novel public health and social sciences research initiated in the response to COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
He said that the Center is well-positioned and poised to identify research needs, expand opportunities for research collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts by different research institutes.
He further stated that the Centre has developed channels for data collection and collation for researchers to share and publish research instruments.
“It has also developed ethical data collection procedures and protocols, and set comprehensive research agenda for all sciences, including pure, applied and social sciences,” he said.
He said that a lot of attention should be paid to some specific areas of existence for a better life after the pandemic.
“Our most concern here is in the area of education. Not only have our educational institutions, from primary to tertiary, been closed down for over two months, their date of resumption still remains uncertain.
“This centre is of the opinion that more efforts should be dedicated to ensuring that our schools are not kept shut for longer than necessary. We appreciate the e-learning initiative being undertaken by some institutions but the reality is that our environment does not have what it’s taken to make a success of that initiative.
“We wish to also join our voices to other concerned Nigerians in appealing to the Federal government to make immediate arrangement for final year students in all our schools and educational institutions to resume and take their final exams. These include SS3 and JSS 3 students, primary six pupils, and final year students of tertiary institutions.
“It is also our considered opinion that markets should not be restricted to only these days a week as is presently the case. We advise that all proper guidelines, the markets can open daily to reduce crowd that besiege market places due to the current restriction as has been advocated by various interest groups.
“Finally, it is our opinion also that the lockdown has not been so helpful, especially the restriction on which observed in the inter-state movement. Accordingly, we suggest that efforts should be connected more on the management of cases, improved testing, and sensitization.”
Speaking after unveiling the center, Alhaji Galadima said that stories coming from those that had been infected by the virus were pathetic and that the country cannot determine the actual number of those infected because of a lack of testing materials.