(Stanley Nwanosike, NAN)
A Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has advocated for the total opening of the economy in order to save small businesses, service-oriented and entertainment industries from extinction due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Director of Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Network (LEAD Network), Mr Chukwuma Okenwa, made the call while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Monday.
Okenwa also advocated for Nigerians to take personal responsibility by the compulsory and regular wearing of face mask and use of alcohol-based sanitisers as recommended by WHO, Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to him, if the current lockdown or partial lockdown continuous through the end of the second quarter, which means a complete quarter of the year, the adverse effect will be so devastating on the economy.
He said that the reality presently was that most entrepreneurs in small businesses and service-oriented and entertainment industries found it extremely hard to pay salaries of employees and meet other financial obligations.
Okenwa noted that considering that education service industry was one of the biggest employers of labour, a continuous closure of schools would impact negatively on employees in the education industry greatly.
He said that although public service teachers might still be able to get their monthly salaries, what about the other millions of teachers in the private sector.
‘Talking about vaccine as the only possible solution, it is worthy to note that up till now the vaccine for HIV/AIDS has not be found but precaution remains the way forward.
‘Thus, if the world (WHO) says that mask can shield persons from getting the virus, then let all mask ourselves and kids and get back to our businesses and schools.
‘From every indication and observation so far, Ebola virus is deadlier than COVID-19, but because it is in African the West did not recommend a lockdown.
‘We went on with our businesses notwithstanding.
‘Do not also forget that everyone did not need to receive a compulsory vaccine for us to be free from Ebola virus,’ he said.
Okenwa said that it was unfortunate that we were compelled to adopt a lockdown with little capacity for sustainable palliatives and stimulus packages for all businesses especially those in the service-oriented and entertainment industries.
‘Opening places where foods are sold without opening up businesses where the money for the food are made is counterproductive,’ he said.
Okenwa called on the Federal Government to urgently commission university researchers in virology, microbiology and pharmacy to come up with clear home-grown remedies for COVID-19.