A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George, has urged Federal Government to relax the lockdown it imposed on Lagos State as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos on Thursday, said the lockdown imposed since March 29 was adversely affecting livelihoods and bringing up security challenges.
He said though government intended to curb the spread of the virus with the lockdown, the directive had left many Nigerians hungry at home without palliatives.
The PDP chieftain noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods, asking the government to relax the lockdown while putting safety measures in place.
He said: “Everywhere in Lagos is now locked down. The markets, banking halls, the local grocery shops, the supermarkets, the transportation services are all halted, frozen by the federal government directives since March 29.
“On the surface level, the federal government’s position is to ensure safety, prevent communal spread of the virus and banish this scourge from our shores.
“Lagosians have been staying at home for about a month now. In a largely informal economy where most of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.
“There is a natural growing anger in Lagos as the most vulnerable are ravaged with hunger.”
According to George, many youths are getting restless, while others have strayed into sheer banditry, terrorising homes, breaking into shops and robbing people.
He added: “And yet others have resorted to putting all kinds of sinister audio messages in the social media threatening rapine and murder.
“Surely, we cannot continue like this. You cannot lockdown millions of people without necessary palliatives to ease the dysfunction which this scourge has inflicted upon our country.
“It is a balancing act. Lagos must be gradually eased out of this shutdown with comprehensive safety measures.
“There is a need for the expansion of the testing centers to ensure that the virus is appropriately contained, especially among the asymptomatic population who may spread the virus without knowing that they are infected.”
The PDP chieftain also urged governments at both state and local levels to purchase more Personal Protection Equipment, ensure more rapid testing kits and make social distancing mandatory.
“All these measures can be aligned at the same time with the easing of the shutdown,” he said.
George said many countries, which had similarly directed lockdowns were lifting the barrier in order to protect their economies and safeguard livelihoods, and urged the Federal Government to do same.