Past President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday notified Nigerians not to misinterpret the lifting of restraints on lockdown for the end of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obasanjo gave the warning at the 2020 Annual Sobo Sowemimo Lecture held at the Abeokuta Club in Abeokuta on Friday.
The former president, who was the guest lecturer at the event, spoke on “COVID-19 and Nigeria Security Issues: The Way Forward”.
He described COVID-19 as a disease that Nigeria in specific and Africa, in general, was ill-prepared and inadequately equipped for.
The elder lawmaker commended the federal and the state governments for the endeavors and measures they had taken to deal extremely with the virus.
“The idea of abandoning the states to deal with the problem mainly at their level on the principle of subsidiarity was a good one.
“It allowed each state with its insufficient resources and installations to gear itself up and to issue instructions and laws on restrictions based on the actuality of the state,” he said.
Obasanjo, regardless, warned that while the federal and various state governments had relaxed the restrictions, Nigerians should not think that the nation had overcome the pandemic.
“Although restrictions are being lifted, we are not out of the woods yet,” Obasanjo said.
He, therefore, stressed the need for constant awareness and measures “to disabuse the minds of ordinary people who may still believe that COVID-19 is not real or that it is the disease of the rich”.
“They must be aware of the fact that the disease has no social or economic restriction or barrier.
“It can afflict anybody no matter his or her age, gender, career or trade, social or economic reputation.
“We must not let down our guard because we may not have achieved the peak yet.
“If the epicenter has moved from China in Asia to Europe to North America and now to Brazil in South America, Africa may or may not resist being an epicenter.
“And even then, we must be ready for the probability of a second wave,” he said.
The former statesman guided that the virus might not vanish from the surface of the earth, but that it could only be rendered weak and feeble and preventable with a vaccine.
He further emphasized on six areas for quick awareness for the supervision of the nation in the post-COVID -19 periods.
There are food availability and security, employment and job security, alteration in the pattern, and style of living including traveling and innovation, science, technology, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence.
Others are local content, raw materials, and substitute as well as diversification of the economy and enhancement of export commodities.
“It is up to us to take these six areas very extremely.
“With good leadership and liberty policy and with the public and private sectors functioning together and the civil society joining hands, all the six areas can be taken care of and we can safely put the pandemic behind and move the country forward,” he said.
The former president also called for serious awareness towards the country’s economic challenges, saying that “I see it as a matter of life and death for our nation which must not be toyed with”.
“Insecurity brought about by broad crime of Boko Haram, insurgents, herdsmen/farmers conflict, terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, militants, kidnappers, abductors, and human traffickers is a new happening that is looting the entire country.
“The reasons are many but the solution is beyond the capacity of the government.
“Prompt effort is required from all well-meaning Nigerians from across the board as we are all victims and captives.
“We must not embrace the position of mindlessness ‘do nothing’ and allow a few to wreck our present and our future.
“Together, we can have Nigeria of our dream and I think that there are Nigerians in all walks of life, from all ethnic groups, religious groups, cultural groups, political groups and across age and gender who will work honestly and sincerely for the emergence of a modern Nigeria.