June 16, 2020
Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu
By Tokunbo Ogunsami
Coronavirus pandemic, otherwise known as COVID-19, caught the whole world unawares. When the disease broke out in Wuhan, China in December last year, nobody knew it would spread quickly to other parts of the world and become a pandemic.
The first case of the pandemic in Nigeria was confirmed by the Federal Ministry of Health on February 27 in Lagos State. The case is an Italian, who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan, Italy on February 25, 2020.
Since then, Lagos, being the commercial capital of Nigeria, has been adversely affected by the pandemic.
There is no gainsaying that Lagos State abinitio had positioned itself in preparedness for such unforeseen circumstances, with the state being named by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of the 100 resilient cities in the world as far back as 2016.
Lagos was not only named as a resilience city, but the Lagos State Government also went ahead to set up a Resilience office. This led to the launch of the Lagos Resilience Strategy documents on February 4, 2020.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had said: “With the delivery of the resilience strategy, the task of implementation of the Lagos Resilience Strategy will enable us to build a greater Lagos. A Lagos that is safe, sustainable and inclusive; a Lagos which anticipates and plans for different shocks and stress; a Lagos which survives, adapts and grows in spite of any challenge it may experience.”
It is, therefore, expected that Lagos State should be touting this strategy with a view to addressing challenges now and in future.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been shut down. Churches, mosques and other worship centres are no longer operating. Industries, companies, ministries and other organisations are not operating in full capacity. In fact, the economy of Lagos State has almost been shut down.
Establishments have been adversely affected during the full and partial lockdown. Consequently, people have been thrown into the unemployment market, thus increasing the number of jobless Lagosians. Those who are fortunate to retain their jobs have their salaries slashed. The poverty rate is now very high.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has, however, indicated his administration’s intention to reopen the economy. The Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC), has come out with guidelines to be obeyed by ministries, companies, industries, banks and other establishments before the economy will be reopened.
However, there is a saying that prevention is better than cure. How can the Lagos State Government in future prevent a pandemic or even an epidemic from spreading to the state?
The step the government should take in post-COVID-19 period is that in future if a pandemic or an epidemic breaks out anywhere in the world, all borders and boundaries (land, sea and air), should be shut immediately. People coming from other states of the federation and other countries should be screened health-wise, they should be isolated, before being allowed to enter Lagos State, to prevent them from infecting Lagosians with the pandemic or epidemic.
The government should educate ministries, companies, banks and other establishments on the need to save for the rainy day. They should be taught how to invest money and diversify their operations so that in case there is a recession in the economy, they will have enough money to continue their operations fully and not resort to the sacking of workers.
Suffice to state that resilience is the ability or capacity of a substance or an object to recover quickly from difficulties or to easily adjust to change. The resilience strategy should be looked at as a pointer to developing a better understanding of the challenges faced and yet to be faced in future, while also reviewing abilities to address these challenges.