As Nigeria reopens four of its land borders to economic activities, a Professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori, has called for vigilance on the part of the authorities to forestall fresh imported Covid infections, especially as the country battles the second wave of the pandemic.
Tomori, who is the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, spoke on a PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable.
He said the government is not prepared for the fresh cases of the virus that would be imported into the country as economic activities resume along the borders, adding that Nigeria’s overburdened health facilities don’t have the capacity for more COVID-19-infected persons.
He said, “Like we always do in Nigeria, we take an action and then two days later, we say, ‘Oh, the repercussion of this action, what should we have done?
“Before the President announced the reopening of the borders, he should have discussed with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to know what they were putting in place to forestall fresh imported cases. I am not sure if he did or not. But which borders are we talking about? The only borders you can control are the Lagos and Abuja international airports. Can you control Seme Border or Illela Border or the other borders?
“Go to Seme Border and see the kind of control we have there. While you are busy with one person, ten other people are coming in from the bush paths.”
“Remember that the first Osun (Covid) cases were actually people who came in from Abidjan. Imagine four more borders now opened. Which control do we have? The Customs can’t control the goods coming in, is it the people that they will control?” Tomori asked. The Federal Government had on December 16 ordered the immediate reopening of the Seme Border in Lagos State, Illela Border in Sokoto State, Maigatari Border in Jigawa State, and Mfun Border in Cross River State.
Nigeria had in August 2019 closed its land borders to curtail illegal importation of drugs, small arms, and agricultural products into the country from neighbouring West African nations. But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced last week that the President approved the immediate reopening of the four borders while other borders would be reopened hopefully before December 31, 2020.