In what should have been President Muhammadu Buhari's fifth COVID-19 national broadcast, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, PTF, on Monday, June 1, 2020, laid out the protocols for the second phase of the easing of restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Places of worship are now reopened subject to PTF guidelines agreed by the state governments. Banks are to operate full time.
The curfew is now between 10 pm and 4 am, but interstate travels are still restricted. Schools are to remain closed.
The state and local governments are to mobilise resources "to create awareness on COVID-19 and improve compliance" with non-medical interventions.
In other words, the Buhari administration is loosening its centralised hold on the pandemic response and giving more power and control to the states and local governments to enforce the rules in public places. This phase will last till June 29, 2020.
The quick takeaway from these measures is that when it comes to implementing policies that impact directly on the people (including security), no federal government anywhere except in Nigeria insists on maintaining sole control.
The states and local governments are far more capable of handling such matters because these are where the people live. Abuja takes the lead but the main action is at the subnational levels. From now on, we expect the states and local government councils to play more prominent roles in public enlightenment at the grassroots.
The inherent danger of the enemy confronting us must be competently communicated to the people in the language they understand.
The job is not for government alone. Community and religious leaders must also take more responsibility in ensuring that we flatten the curve of infections and rescue ourselves from COVID-19's stranglehold.
The greatest burden to fight and survive the pandemic lies with us as individuals.
It is so now more than ever before.
The gradual reopening of the system has to be done in order to enable us return to our livelihood while still playing safe. It is not a licence to return to the lifestyle we used to live.
It imposes a strong imperative on us to continue to observe all the rules that the authorities and medical experts have been drumming into us for the past three months: social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing of masks whenever we leave our homes; frequently washing our hands with soap under running water, using hand sanitisers and helping one another in any way we can whenever help is needed.
In this phase, government has almost totally handed back the control of our lives to us. Our lives are now in our hands. Government will gradually move further away as we go from here. Take responsibility because it is your life.