In this report, we cover a range of health and economic issues in response to Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19. From health preparedness to economic measures designed to mitigate the effect of a prolonged lockdown, we examine the gaps and citizens’ pulse on the government’s response. This report identifies measures by Federal and State governments, highlighting a state by state health preparedness index. In addition, we cover a list of private sector support in the fight against COVID-19 including its role in increasing the number of isolation centres across the country.

Amongst the gaps, we considered how ineffective the sensitisation about the disease has been following a reduction in the observation of social distancing and the use of facemask after the phasing of the lockdown and lifting of the interstate travel ban. In addition, we examine reports of police brutality since the announcement of Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case.

We carried out a recent survey across states in Nigeria to determine the perception of Nigerians towards the government’s response in handling the COVID-19. The data gathered covers the following states: Abia, Abuja, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

When asked if they would support a second lockdown if it would help to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, 90.24% of respondents said they are not likely to support another lockdown, while 9.76% said they are likely to support another lockdown.

During the lockdown, the Nigerian economy contracted and the unemployment rate has significantly risen due to the interstate travel ban and the lockdown across the country. In addition, a lot of households are having to grapple with the realities of inflation (see more on this in our Jollof Index), this obviously accounts for why the vast majority of respondents show an overwhelming lack of support for having another lockdown if the need arises. The underlying reason is grounded in the economic effects the previous lockdown had on their businesses, career and livelihood, and relationships. Also, the Nigerian government did not leverage the lockdown to prepare adequately to ramp up testing, build more isolation centres or offer adequate support to citizens, which has fuelled doubts in the government’s capacity to contain the spread of the virus or effectively implement economic measures to keep the country afloat.

The lack of a comprehensive national database continues to be problematic for Nigeria. Without a unified database to go by, the distribution of palliatives was bound to be abysmal. When asked if they received any form of government assistance or palliatives, the survey showed that 98.8% of respondents claimed not to have received any form of support from the government and about 1.2% of people surveyed said they received some form of support through one of the following channels: TraderMoni, MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, FGN funded loans issued by the banking industry, food distribution from the local government collection points or through other proxies. However, a large portion of the group that received government support indicated that the support received was insufficient. This comes even after the Federal Government announced an expansion of the number of households that would benefit from the direct distribution of food/cash from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households.

The pandemic is having a major effect on schools and education, and there will be a lingering effect long after the pandemic is over. SBM spoke to some respondents in various parts of the country about the knock-on effects of interrupted education. Some parents in Lagos made it clear that they are, at the moment at least, not interested in having their children go back to school because they already put their children in apprenticeship programmes. The most popular programmes are programmes for auto mechanics, tailoring and painting.

Slightly more affluent parents said they had hired private teachers for their children to hold private classes in the morning, but in such cases, the children still went for apprenticeship programmes later on in the day. On their part, middle-class parents appeared split. Some wished for schools to reopen as quickly as possible, while others insisted that schools remain closed.

Lastly, we consider the economics of COVID-19, identifying a rise in inflation in our Jollof Index report as well as citizen’s perception of the government’s response in tackling the spread of the disease, from instituting a lockdown to the distribution of support and palliatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic offered a rare opportunity for introspection and possible correction of defunct institutions and ill-fitted policymaking in Nigeria. From this report, the adequate advantage was not taken to sustainably improve health infrastructure in the country even though many political leaders have had to receive treatment in the country owing to a ban on international travels. Doctors and healthcare workers still have to strike for salary increases and the provision of personal protective equipment. The pandemic has amplified poor monetary and economic policies as the country’s economy contracts, hoping to recover from the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The report shows that although the government’s efforts are commendable, a lot of work still remains to be done.

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