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•Insist decentralization of response, better way to curb spread •Govs of Lagos, Bauchi, Oyo, Ogun states share experiences, lessons •Extending lockdown will be catastrophic for Nigeria — Ayade By Henry Umoru &Ike Uchechukwu Governors of the 36 states of the federation yesterday unanimously resolved to adopt two weeks inter-state lockdown as part of measures to contain spread of coronavirus across the country. The resolution was reached during the 6th teleconference meeting chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

The governors, who also harped on the need to decentralise the COVID-19 response, said in a communique issued at the end of the meeting. The communique read: “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, at our meeting held today deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and resolved as follows: “The Forum held a minute’s silence in honour of all Nigerians who have lost their lives from coronavirus, especially health workers who were in the front lines of the epidemic. “Members also conveyed their condolence to Mr President and the people of Borno State on the passing of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari who passed away on 17th April 2020 in the line of duty to the country. “The NGF Chairman briefed the Forum on the rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and coordination efforts with the Federal Government, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

“With over 25 States now affected by the spread of the virus and increasing evidence of community transmission, State Governors called for the decentralisation of the COVID-19 response as the best chance of nipping the spread of the virus in communities.

“Following an update from the NGF Secretariat on the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, members expressed serious concern over the rising spread of the virus among health workers and resolved to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that health workers are adequately provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on the use of protective gears. “In order to strengthen coordinated implementation of necessary public health recommendations across States, Governors resolved to set up COVID-19 Committees at the regional level, headed by their State Commissioners of Health. “Regional Committees will continue to interface with the State Task Force Committees on COVID-19 already established in each state. “The Forum also received briefing from the governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Oyo and Ogun states who shared their experiences and lessons from the fight against COVID-19. “Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an inter-state lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state. Only essential services will be permitted. “Lastly, the Forum congratulated the Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who after nearly four weeks of testing positive and observing very strict medical regime has now received two consecutive negative test results for the coronavirus.’’ Meanwhile, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has warned that any further extension of lockdown of the country in response to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic will spell doom for the country. He said, “With prices of oil falling, locking out is far better than locking down for another two weeks will find this country under siege by young people. There is no way you can hold down these young energies for too long. “It is demographic, it is statistics. Sixty Five percent of the population is below the age of 35 and the virus itself does not have penetrative force in such a demography and that is what we have to recognise as a country. “Our demography is different from the West. Our climatic conditions are different. If you take the wind speed, the wind direction, sun intensity, radiation and the factors that govern the movement of a virus, ours is a situation that makes it difficult to spread with the speed it is spreading in the western world.”

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