By Martin-Rita Adebayo
Following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria, the country is set to reopen her International border which would allow flights in and out of the country on August 27th, 2020. The Presidential taskforce on COVID-19 announced this sometimes last week. This phase of ease on the International flight would give Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja the chance to resume operation with protocols and guidelines for safe reopening lay down by the taskforce.
Nigeria has been on lockdown for over 5 months with gradual easing of locking in phases, since May this year. The effect of the global pandemic on socioeconomic and lives can not be quantified. This has put many livelihood on hold which our leaders has refused to address appropriately. Schools at all levels of learning has been on lockdown due to the effect of this pandemic. Even before now, the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19 has directed the safe reopening of religious centers, markets, Banks and corporate organizations with level adherents to guidelines and protocols.
The crux and major contention here is beyond the lift of ban on international flights in Nigeria. This announcement has been trailed by mixed reactions from Nigerians who have reacted that this decision is more of pro elite and the rich, so as to jet out of the country to seek better healthcare attention. This has even been drawn in relation to schools of higher learning supposed to be warming up to resumption in overseas countries. Many said, it is time for the children of the rich to resume schools abroad while our schools are under lock and keys here. Members of Academic Staff Universities Union has been on strike for 5 months agitating for compliance and fulfilment of the Federal Government to memorandum signed last year. Also, the intricacies that trailed the IPPIS for ASUU has continue to generate a lot of controversies in which the Federal Government has been playing hide and seek game with them.
We can say that, there’s more to this reopening of International flights when advance countries in the world are still placing countries on their COVID-19 watch list to look out for. Why are we so desperate to reopen our international borders when the world is still battling a global pandemic? Why are we not conscious of taking care of our internal structure for a better safe reopening of our corporate organizations, schools, and religious centers? We must look beyond this ease of lockdown. It is more of advantageous to the rich and elite which can sabotage the whole country. We must come together as a nation to invest more in nation building rather than ephemeral and parochial interest of a few.
What we need to reopen now is our schools of learning and talk to stakeholders involved. We can not continue to chase shadow and refuse to place national priorities on front burners. Government can fund and do better to assist individuals and body to create an enabling environment till the world find a lasting solution (Vaccines) to this menace.