The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has described Nigeria’s top-5 ranking in the Global Normalcy Index as a clear evidence of the success of the Covid-19 prevention measures introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, as well as the cooperation of the Nigerian masses.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that the Index produced by the Influential magazine, The Economist, is a major endorsement of the proactive measures conceptualized and enforced by the Federal Government to stem the tide of the pandemic in the country.
“That Nigeria is ranked 4th on the global normalcy index among 50 countries graded by eight indicators, including time not at home, retail, office use, public transport, road traffic, flights, cinema and sports attendance, is a pointer that the Buhari administration was extremely efficient in managing the impact of coronavirus, compared to several other countries.
“What makes the ranking a thing to celebrate is the fact that Hong Kong and New Zealand which are the top two countries on the index are island nations with population of seven and five million respectively, as well as having better infrastructure compared to a developing country like Nigeria with a population in excess of 200 million.
“So it is a big deal that Nigeria is ranked 4th with 84% while China is ranked 19th, the US 20th, and the UK 36th in The Economist’s index which measured how countries are returning to their pre-pandemic level after several months of global lockdown and subsequent restriction on movement locally and across international borders.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the pre-pandemic level of activity was set at a score of 100 and the assessment covered 50 countries representing about 75 % of global population and 90% of global GDP, but Nigeria’s 84% turned out to be the highest in Africa with Egypt ranked 2nd in Africa and 8th in the world with 81.1% and South Africa not even among the top ten.
“We view this development as a reflection of the people-centered approach taken by the Buhari administration and believe that while the government deserves commendation, the people too deserve praises for cooperating with the Federal Government through the difficult lockdown period”.
BMO noted that Nigeria was one of the first set of countries to introduce pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures which elicited commendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO)
“We recall that the WHO declared the coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), on January 20, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11 but we want to put it on record that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) pushed out a virus notification on its website as early as January 7, 2020, and on January 26, it rolled out a multi-sectoral National Coronavirus Preparedness Group to coordinate Nigeria’s preparedness and mediation.
“And after the country recorded its first few cases, NCDC tuned up contact tracing activities and increased capacity for case detection and treatment in collaboration with the States governments. Treatment centres were expanded from an initial single facility in Lagos with 35 beds to 121 treatment centers with 6,550 beds nationwide, while the number of testing laboratories increased to 28 in 18 States by the end of May, 2020.
“Nigeria also closed its national airspace to prevent flights arriving from the most affected regions of the world at the time and announced a lockdown, beginning at first with the most affected states. This was even when several developed countries had yet to make any concrete effort to curb the spread of the pandemic. So it was not a surprise that she was singled out for praise by WHO which pointed out that the country was handling the pandemic better than countries with better structures and health infrastructure.
“Let us also add that that all these were possible because President Buhari had moved fast to set up a Presidential Task Force (PTF), headed by the Secretary to Government of the federation Boss Mustapha, to oversee and coordinate the country’s multi-sectoral and inter-governmental efforts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, as well as to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
“On the economic front, Nigeria, like the rest of the world, went into a pandemic-induced economic recession, but the country, on President Buhari’s watch, stunned economic experts by making a quick exit in the last quarter of 2020 and has since built on it.
“Aside from the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) introduced by the Central Bank to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on households and small businesses within the first few months of the pandemic, the government also came up with a payroll support initiative to help private schools and other small scale enterprises to pay salaries just after the first national lockdown.
“And now that the country is gradually returning to normalcy, the administration came up with a N2.3tn Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP) under the supervision of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to sustain the gains of economic recovery”.