Nigeria has become the second African country in as many days to announce an extension to the lockdown ongoing in many major cities across the continent after South Africa announced a lockdown extension last week.
Yesterday, millions of Nigerians and Africans around the world watched a live broadcast by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as he extended the 14-day lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States by 14 days. The president said the move was in a bid to sustain the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The initial 14-day lockdown was due to end yesterday night but has now been extended by 14 days.
Mr. Buhari noted that although the lockdown has put Nigerians in a difficult situation, it was necessary to save lives, adding that the initial two weeks of the restriction order had helped the authorities to trace people who had contacted those already infected.
However, many Nigerians have condemned the extension saying that it has caused serious hardships and suffering in the country. Reports claim that there have been increased cases of robberies in various parts of the country and many more continue to complain that they have not benefited from relief food and cash allocated to poor families by the government.
The Buhari government came under strong attacks after a spokesman announced that billions of Naira have been disbursed in the last few days to citizens of the country as relief aid during the lockdown. Citizens accused the government of lying and indulging in sharp practices.
In the same vein, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa last week extended the country's strict lockdown until the end of April to fight the coronavirus.
In a speech broadcast to the nation, Ramaphosa said the lockdown of Africa's most industrialized economy, which has been in effect since March 27, has succeeded in reducing the country's average daily increase of new COVID-19 cases from 42% to about 4%.
“We must proceed in a manner that is cautious,” Ramaphosa said.
“If we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease. We risk reversing the gains we have made over the last few weeks.”
Critics across the continent and beyond have condemned the lockdown extension in strong terms, saying it would cause more harm than good. The South African opposition party argues that the lockdown extension in the country would lead to an “economic disaster.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was a "great mistake to think in terms of lives versus livelihoods".
"Each death resulting from the virus is a tragedy. But so is each death resulting from caged citizens and frustrated law enforcers, and so is each victim of home violence - and each malnourished child, each newly unemployed South African," the party said in a statement.
"We would prefer a gradual phasing out of the current lockdown over the coming weeks."
Africa has recorded 15,346 total confirmed Covid-19 cases, 11,565 active confirmed cases, 2,946 recoveries, and 835 deaths.
What are your thoughts on the lockdown extension?