The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has commended the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, for their efforts in addressing COVID-19 in the last one month.
The group also called attention of government to the need to ensure that citizens in remote locations and hard to reach communities are prioritised in the responses to the pandemic.
According to the Chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, ‘The efforts of the government of Lagos State will go down in the history of the nation for the leadership role played in the containment and response to pandemic of this nature.
We commend their forthrightness’ so far and wish them more success in the drive to ensure a COVID-19-free Nigeria.
We believe that Lagos State has set the standard and pace for other States in Nigeria to immediately emulate, we therefore call on other state governments to adopt the quick response approach of the Lagos Government to enable the country address this global crisis, with limited causalities.’
Furthermore, TMG frowns at the attitude of some citizens, mostly elites, who might have been exposed to the virus but have failed to follow the necessary self-isolation and self-reporting regime to prevent them from spreading the virus. Such behavior is inhuman, self–destructive and ungodly to say the least.
TMG also calls on Nigerians to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from this new Coronavirus.
The organisation advocate for a social ecological approach knowing fully that Nigeria has a huge rural community that needs to make informed decision on COVID-19. TMG therefore proposes a top-down/bottom-up approach to information sharing and responses.
TMG is a coalition of over 400 civil society organizations across the 36 states of the country, ‘We further commit to volunteering their membership to support in information management at the grassroots levels, distribution of materials and acting as conduit to support information management across the country that can stem the global pandemic. The Civil Society play pivotal roles in Nigeria and can support in ensuring that right information is passed across to the teeming population both online and physically.’
TMG is however not unaware of the fact that there is a huge outpouring of information out there, but very few are useful and reliable and that the rural communities in Nigeria are still not properly captured to understand the impact of this pandemic.
TMG therefore appeals to governments across Nigeria to target more of the rural communities. ‘We also call on Nigerians to desist from sharing fake news or misinformation at this time because it may lead to paranoia, fear, and stigmatization, which will make people more susceptible to the virus.’
‘TMG while applauding the efforts of the government is however concerned about the role of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in this phase of combating COVI-19, especially with evidence from the National Survey data showing that less than 30% of poor Nigerians have access to improved sources of water, and the fact that households in rural communities are disproportionately impacted.
Furthermore, evidence also shows 34% of rural communities must travel at least two hours’ round trip to fetch water, the realities will no doubt have impact on availability of the necessary WASH to address COVID-19. While this deficiency in the WASH Sector may not be addressed immediately, there must be efforts by the government to support palliatives to improve this condition during the pendency of this crisis. We urge governments at all levels to facilitate mass production and distribution of effective hand sanitizer to citizens, especially those who cannot afford to buy.’
Furthermore, TMG is also aware of the donations of protective kits and essentials to the government to curb the pandemic and call on the government to ensure adequate provision of these protective gears to those on the frontline of battling the spread of this deadly virus, especially our health workers and those Nigerians on essential services.
More crucial, as the country is heading towards a necessary lockdown as part of efforts to halt the spread of the virus, the TMG is concerned about the plight of millions of Nigerians who have no means of livelihood as well as those who have to earn their living on a daily basis outside of their homes and in particular women, who will most likely bear the burden.
The impact of a lockdown on these categories of citizens could be very severe and may lead to much more undesirable consequences than the COVID-19.
We therefore call on governments particularly states and the federal, to provide social security support that enable poor citizens to afford and access basic provisions such as food, water, medicines and toiletries.
Lastly, even at a trying period like this we call for prudency, accountability and transparency in the management of public resources. We urge government to ensure proper monitoring and auditing of all resources deployed to combating this pandemic, including those donated by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and other indigenous philanthropist. It is more important that the resources get to where they are intended for, and achieve desired results, rather than spending more public resources and time afterwards to chase after looters of such critical resources.
We hope the government will come out of this crises with lessons for good governance and better management of public funds and resources for the good of all.