How Nigeria Beat USA, UK, China In Covid-19 Recovery Index



The negative effect of Covid-19 pandemic on countries of the world cannot be overemphasized. Many countries had to go on lockdown at the height of the pandemic and this largely affected businesses, activities and people’s daily way of life. We saw economies crashing, and even the price of crude oil melted down drastically affecting oil producing countries like Nigeria. Millions of people either lost their jobs or had a slash in pay. Those who still had their jobs worked from home or had meetings via zoom. And social life too was at a stand still.

Like in other countries, the Federal Government of Nigeria was saddled with the responsibility of taking pre-emptive measures to curtail the spread of the virus, fortify our health facilities to effectively handle affected cases and cushion the effect on the economy.

However, with the production of the covid-19 vaccine, there has been a decline in the number of active cases round the globe including in Nigeria. Economies are now picking up and life is gratually returning to normal. But the question is, will things ever go back to the way they were before the pandemic?

A recent report by the United Kingdom magazine, The Economist has revealed the extent to which various countries are returning to pre-pandemic life. In a bid to track how behaviour has changed, and continues to change because of the pandemic, the weekly magazine devised a “Normalcy Index”. The index measured how countries are returning to their pre-pandemic state, after several months of global lockdown and subsequent restriction on movement locally and across international borders.

The index used eight indicators; time not at home, retail, office use, public transport, road traffic, flights, cinema and sports attendance. This was further split into three domains namely, transport and travel, recreation and entertainment and lastly retailing and work.

For the purpose of clarity, the pre-pandemic level of activity was set at a score of 100 and the assessment covered 50 countries of the world’s largest economies that together account for 90% of global GDP and 76% of the world’s population. The aggregate measure was the population-weighted average of each country’s score.

The Global Normalcy Index as reported by The Economist rated Nigeria 4th with 84% (out of the 50 countries) next to Hong Kong, New zealand and Pakistan while more developed countries like China, US, and UK ranked 19th, 20th and 36th respectively. It may interest you to know that Hong Kong and New Zealand (the top two on the chat) are Island nations with better infrastructure and lesser population compared to a developing country like Nigeria with a population of more than 200 million.

Nigeria’s 4th ranking in the world and first in Africa shows how effective the Government at the Federal level was able to properly manage the pandemic. This endorsement is an evidence of the success of the Covid-19 prevention measures introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

President Buhari at the initial stage of the pandemic closed the 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. He also 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.

Other measures taken were; waiver on import duty for medical equipment and supplies, introduction of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures, contact tracing activities and increased capacity for case detection and treatment in collaboration with the States’ governments, expansion of treatment centres from an initial single facility in Lagos with 35 beds to 121 treatment centers with 6,550 beds nationwide, establishment of 28 testing laboratories in 18 States two months after the first Covid case was confirmed.

The Federal Government released the sum of N10 billion to Lagos State to combat the COVID-19 outbreak and N1 billion grant for pharmaceutical. It also approved the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund to upgrade medical facilities that have been identified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

When things became tough for the citizens during the lock down, it approved the release of 70,000 tonnes of grains and150 trucks of rice seized by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to the 36 States of the federation.

In addition to the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) introduced by the Central Bank to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on households and small businesses, the government also came up with a payroll support initiative to help private schools and other small scale enterprises to pay salaries.

To crown it all, it established the Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP) under the supervision of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The ESP is a 12-month transit plan between the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the successor plan to the ERGP which was developed with a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion to boost local production, prevent businesses collapse and provide liquidity across various sectors, especially micro, small and medium enterprises MSMEs.

With all the efforts put in place by the President, it is no surprise that we ranked among the first five countries in the Global Normalcy Index. Recall that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also pointed out that the country was handling the pandemic better than countries with better structures and health infrastructure. This is a testimonial that the effort of this government are being seen through the eyes of the international world.

Although we fell into recession twice like most countries, President Muhammadu Buhari meticulously navigated Nigeria out of recession faster than countries with more resilient economies to the amazement of the world.

These measures and steps are believed to be the reason we are returning to the pre-pandemic era faster than other countries.

It is worthy to note that if the Federal Government had not managed the pandemic well enough, we probably would be going into another lock down like Austria, Bangladesh and South Africa, amongst others. Just imagine what that would have done to our economy.

The rating also speaks volume of the citizens cooperation, enduring the difficulties posed by the lockdown and adhering to the safety guidelines by the Ministry of Health, which made effective handling of the pandemic possible resulting in relatively few mortality compared to other developed and developing countries.

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