While it is clear that the government risked creating an unimaginable havoc on the Nigerian economy and businesses by enforcing a lockdown, a reopening of the country only further endangers the lives of Nigerians beyond reasonable proportions.
For more than 7 weeks, most of Nigeria’s biggest and most prosperous cities have been on either partial or total shutdown, costing the Nigerian economy billions of dollars every day in lost production. However, while businesses face a bankruptcy threat due to the extended period of lockdown, households face a hunger crisis as millions of Nigerians have either been retrenched from work or have seen their salaries cut significantly with zero support from the Federal Government in terms of unemployment benefits or stimulus checks.
As ear deafening pressure mounted on the government to either reopen the economy for business or start paying households and businesses monthly stimulus checks, the Federal Government ultimately bowed to the former which they believe to be a cheaper alternative. Considering the nosedive in crude oil price in the global market, it seems that the Nigerian government (who depend on oil earnings for more than half of its 2020 revenue target) may be too broke to financially support businesses and households in the manner required during this COVID crisis. While on the surface, it seems like a rational decision to save the economy rather than save lives through the enforcement of a lockdown, reopening the economy too early may actually prove the more expensive route if the coronavirus outbreak reaches an extreme position before the vaccine is available hopefully towards yearend.