News

Lagos holds Twitter poll over lockdown return

Worried about disregard for social distancing guidelines, Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, is running a Twitter poll to decide if a lockdown relaxed last week should be brought back.

There have been more than 70,000 votes so far in the poll, which closes on Friday. Support for the return of the lockdown is leading, with 49% of votes cast, while those against are on 39% and 10% are neutral.

Twitter polls are unstructured – anyone, including those not living in Lagos can vote, so the poll may not be a true reflection of what those in the state want.

The state government has also clarified that the poll was a strategy of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu “to carry the masses along in governance” and that the poll will not be the only determinant of the final decision on a statewide lockdown.

Lagos, neighbouring Ogun and Nigeria’s capital Abuja were placed under a five-week lockdown at the end of March by President Muhammadu Buhari to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The lockdown restrictions were eased last week but face masks were made mandatory in public and a curfew from 20:00 to 6:00 was imposed in the three states.

Lagos, which is the epicentre of Nigeria’s coronavirus outbreak with more than 2,000 cases, had released guidelines enforcing social distancing and hygiene in public transport and operation of businesses.

Buses were to have hand-washing points, carry a designated number of passengers and businesses were encouraged to continue working from home.

But last Monday, on the first working day after the restrictions were eased, people besieged banks in the residential parts of the state seeking to withdraw their money. Buses were also observed not to be following the government’s directives as they carried more than the stipulated passengers.

Governor Sanwo-Olu warned on Tuesday that authorities were tracking how people were complying with the guidelines, and that “in the next couple of days if we do not see the level of compliance that we expect to see, we will be left with no option than to clamp the system again,” he said.

People had complained that they were struggling during the lockdown, but many others felt it was not the right time to ease restrictions as cases were rising.

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