Civil society organisations in Abia State, Nigeria, have responded to the challenge of the current pandemic by forming the Abia Civil Society Coalition against Covid-19 (ACSCA Covid-19). In its first official statement, the coalition called on authorities in the state to scale up the capacity of health workers and ensure the availability of Covid-19 testing as well as the functionality of healthcare centres across the state.
ACSCA Covid-19, in its statement, lauded the various measures taken by the state government to keep the people of the state safe, including issuing a stay-at-home order, shutting down nonessential markets and other sites of mass gathering. ACSCA Covid-19 especially praised efforts of the state to educate the masses on social distancing.
ACSCA Covid-19 also acknowledged the government’s effort in distributing face masks and hand sanitisers at no cost. However, the coalition expressed concerns over the plight of the large percentage of people in the state who do not have the financial capacity to cope with long periods of self-isolation or lockdown. ACSCA Covid-19 therefore called on the government to provide social palliatives for such people in order to enable them survive and abide by the necessary safety measures.
The coalition urged the state governor, His Excellency Okezie Ikpeazu, to commit his security votes and monthly salaries to the welfare of the people, given that 80 percent of the state’s 2.8 million population earn their living in the informal sector and depend on daily income for their upkeep. ACSCA Covid-19 also called on the governor to offset the backlog of civil servant salaries as well as pensions owed to retired state workers.
The coalition further noted that the state government will have to mobilise the private sector, civil society and religious bodies to work together in ensuring that Covid-19 testing takes place and that preventive, humanitarian responses are coordinated. ACSCA Covid-19 recommended urgent measures that will ensure support funds from the state government reach the people of the state, to enable them survive the lockdown.
Source: Abia Civil Society Coalition against Covid-19
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