‘Relax Lockdown to Avoid Social Chaos’ – Gatefield COO, Adewunmi Emoruwa Provides Alternative to Total Lockdown

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Following the current coronavirus pandemic, Adewunmi Emoruwa, Lead Strategist and COO of Gatefield, a public strategy company, has said that Nigeria is a few days away from social chaos. Unless of course, the lockdown is partially lifted.

'Relax Lockdown to Avoid Social Chaos' - Adewunmi Emoruwa Gives Alternatives
Adewunmi Emoruwa, Lead Strategist and COO of Gatefield

Just before midnight, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) revealed a whopping 86 new cases, 70 of which were in Lagos. This has since divided Nigerians into two camps.

One camp believes government oughts to do more in enforcing the lockdown while the other camp believes the lockdown isn’t having a marked effect as cases keep rising despite of.

Sharing his thoughts on the looming crisis, Adewunmi forecasted that the country is a few weeks away from the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and a few months away from an economic recession.

We are few days away from social chaos, few weeks away from the coronavirus peak and a few months away from a recession.
The outcomes are all catastrophic with different timelines. What would you do?

Adewunmi Emoruwa

Adewunmi Emoruwa who is the Lead Strategist and COO of Gatefield, a public strategy and media group, said harder times are coming and revealed ways he thinks the issues could be addressed.

According to him, protecting the health of the people and preventing a breakdown of society should be the priorities at this time. He also noted that a breakdown of society has resulted in more deaths than the health risks.

Here are some of the ideas and recommendations Adewunmi shared on the crisis.

Relaxing the lockdown

Due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus in the country, the FG implemented lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. However, the effect of the lockdown appears minimal as the number of infections in the country keeps growing.

People collecting palliatives during the lockdown and essentially throwing caution and social distancing to the wind

Last week, the FG added two more weeks to the lockdown in an extra effort to curb the virus. However, the lockdown has been very difficult on people who live on daily income and a continuous extension would increase the number of people who can’t afford their daily meals.

Suggested read: Can Nigeria Afford Another 14 Days Lockdown or Are There Better Models That Can be Adopted?

According to Adewunmi, Nigeria is just days away from social chaos as he believes Nigerians are reaching their limit. He advised the government to adopt the same measures that Vietnam is employing by relaxing the lockdown and restricting movement to certain areas based on case mapping.

“Relax statewide lockdowns. Maintain the suspension of public transportation to reduce mobility. Completely restrict movement out of certain zones based on case mapping. (Vietnam’s Community Quarantine strategy) Provide palliatives for these communities instead of spreading thin.”

Adewunmi Emoruwa

While this seems like a great idea, there will be obvious concerns about the point of relaxing the lockdown if movement will still be restricted by the suspension of public transport nonetheless.

Furthermore, this would more likely create a whole new industry of private motorists transporting people to their destinations at very high rates due to a monopoly. In the end, the general idea behind suspending public transport could largely be defeated.

Building trust between the Government and the People

Since this pandemic broke out, there has been a lot of outcry against the government, especially on social media. The issues range from the lack of trust in the capabilities of the government to accusations of corruption and mismanagement of palliatives.

Nigeria has 627 confirmed cases of coronavirus as at press time

Adewunmi has advised the government to adopt an “all people, all government” approach to the crisis, adding that trust between people and government has been effective in coronavirus response globally.

“There is an empirical correlation between trust in government and effective coronavirus response globally. ‘We are in this together’ approach saves lives. FG should leverage community structures (FBOs, CBOs) for delivering public good,” he said.

The longer the lockdown lasts, the more difficult it will be for people to afford their daily meal

He added that the government can leverage local stalls, mosques and churches in poor communities as stakeholders. Describing them as ‘Community Keepers’, these organisations can educate, distribute aid and provide reporting to govt on health risks. He also called on government to ramp up surveillance and localise testing.

Although there has been speculation as to how bad the current pandemic will affect Nigeria, many Nigerians are curious about how extensive the effects will be.

However, the government hasn’t been too forthcoming with extensive details or forecasts about the crisis and what they are going to do to remedy it. Adewunmi advised that the government speaks honestly to its people and persuade them to stay at home.

“Above all be honest with the people. Talk openly about limitations in testing capabilities, and tough times ahead. Persuade people to stay at home as the best prevention strategy. Channel the high appeal of religion and call for national prayers and support”

Adewunmi Emoruwa, Lead Strategist and COO of Gatefield

Security

Since the lockdown started there have been several reported cases of harassment and brutalisation of citizens by law enforcement agencies tasked with restricting movement.

According to reports, more than 18 people have been killed in the country as a result of this brutality. These killings have sprouted some sort of protest against security agents and the lockdown in general.

Suggested read: Social Media Roundup: Lagos and Ogun Unrest, Lockdown Extension and the Gang-rape Saga

Adewunmi has however recommended that the government apologized to all the victims of overzealous security agents publicly. He added that they should be compensated and the perpetrators named and prosecuted

“Apologize via national broadcast and pay compensation to victims of overzealous security operatives. Name & shame rogue security operatives, announcing their prosecution. Readout human rights centric enforcement guidelines. Penalize errant big men that flout NCDC’s rules.”

Adewunmi Emoruwa, Lead Strategist and COO of Gatefield

Summary

The end of the coronavirus pandemic is nowhere in sight and the battle to curb its spread and manage the damages caused by it rages on. Adewunmi has called on Nigerians to pull together.

He also pleaded with President Buhari to take responsibility and provide the right leadership as the people can’t bear the burden alone for long.


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