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Pushing e-Commerce F!rontiers as COVID-19 Enters community Transmission Stage in Nigeria

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As fear heightens over probable backlash of relaxed lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States amidst frightening community transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19), e-Commerce remains the most practical and safest method for curtailing the virus and driving social distancing. 
The relaxation of lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States effective May 4 as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in his nationwide broadcast on April 27, has unwittingly added a new dimension to the management of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) amidst concerns over rising community transmission.
The President in empathy for business owners, workers and residents, who were overburdened by the heavy economic losses, impacted by the seven-week presidential lockdown imposed since March 29, announced the implementation of a phased relaxation of lockdown with people allowed to commute from 6am to 8pm daily as from May 4.
One biggest contest here is, what happens to social distancing? Observers are of the view that, despite the efficient control of travel history-related cases, the major concern remains how to flatten the worrisome spike in community transmission as almost the entire 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are now in the COVID-19 net. 
Against the backdrop of the partial lifting of lockdown and the aftermath on Abuja; Lagos – due to its high population density and Ogun State because of its proximity to Lagos, worries being expressed stem from the fear that allowing people to move about freely could adversely impact the social distancing protocol and consequently trigger a fresh spike in Coronavirus transmission. 
“Now that businesses, workers and residents can go about their daily chores, a spike in the transmission is inevitable,” a concerned citizen said. 
Nevertheless, the solutions to these challenges are not far to seek. The good news is that rather than taking the dangerous option of mingling with crowds, consumers can take advantage of e-Commerce platforms like Jumia’s e-payment and last-mile delivery capabilities, which are uniquely positioned to be part of Africa’s response strategy to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those that desire to make a purchase of essential and non-essential goods that they were unable to get during the lockdown, can also leverage the services of Jumia to avoid crowded places thereby eliminating or reducing their vulnerability to Coronavirus infection. 
As a pan-African leading e-Commerce company with presence in 11 African countries, Jumia through its integrated technology and data-driven online channels and last-mile infrastructure including a marketplace, logistics and payment platforms, enables customers to make orders online, pay online for goods and get their orders delivered to their offices or homes, thereby staying safe and keeping social distancing. 
Through JumiaPay, the e-Commerce company also encourages digital payments over cash, which can be a conduit for the spread of coronavirus. With its unrivalled network of partnerships with almost 20 Quick Service Restaurants and kitchens, Jumia Food can reach millions of employees in their offices or those that may prefer to continue to work remotely from home. 
Jumia’s innovative ‘contactless delivery’ ensures safe doorstep delivery of orders by its last-mile delivery agents in protective wear without close physical contact with customers thereby reducing person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. 
As a leader, the company has continued to avail customers a positive experience of real-time and convenient online shopping to keep safe distancing before, during and even after the lifting of lockdown. By providing access to affordable basic foods and sanitary essentials on the marketplace platform, Jumia leverages partnership with thousands of vendors like Reckitt Benckiser and others, and is able to maintain fair prices and fight against price gouging. Jumia has waived the commission on specific sanitary products to help consumers get them at the lowest price and to ensure healthy price control. It thus makes a good buy advantage to access essentials from Jumia.   
While reviewing the partial lifting of lockdown on Channels Television 10 o’clock news bulletin monitored in Lagos some days ago, a former director of the Department of State Service, Mike Ejiofor, explained that influx in people’s movement should be expected in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states on Monday, May 4 and some days after. 
According to him, the residents, who have complied with the presidential stay at home order for weeks, would naturally want to do as much as they could to recover the lost ground. While appealing to people not to compromise social distancing as they return to work, he urged the government to strengthen compliance with social distancing.
A public affairs analyst, Mudorck Essien, advised the government to learn from countries that have implemented relaxed lockdown including China, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic and New Zealand by leveraging e-Commerce system to curtail movement and large crowds at physical malls, stores and open market stalls. 
Noting, in particular, our peculiar cultural orientation, he said e-Commerce operators like Jumia and the rest offer cost-efficient options to help safety-conscious consumers limit their movements and avoid overcrowded places like brick-and-mortar malls, stores, shops and open markets. He said it is normal for Nigerians to ride on the emotion of wanting to make a quick purchase of those non-essentials they were unable to buy during the period of lockdown especially as there might be fresh lockdown in the event of a fresh wave of Coronavirus transmission.  
“The fundamentals of COVID-19 have not changed. It’s too dangerous to break the social distancing protocol now because of the high risk of person-to-person transmission. One infected person entering a mall or a store can infect a dozen people. One infected person that enters Idumota, Balogun or Oke-Arin markets to buy textiles or other needs can infect hundreds of more people. It just makes good sense to leverage the e-Commerce system to sustain social distancing. Let people do their purchases through online transactions,” Essien counselled.
A financial analyst, Ayo Ademire, said the return of normal economic activities would automatically trigger an increase in hand-to-hand exchange of physical cash among Nigerians, thus raising the fear of a spike in transmission. To this end, he maintained that a country like Nigeria that seeks to benefit from the huge potentials of the digital economy should begin to optimise the e-Commerce system as the practice is in countries like China, the United States and other developed economies.
“This is the best time to take advantage of e-Commerce operators like Jumia. They can serve the multiple ends of keeping people safe at this critical time as well as promoting the digital economy. Government should encourage e-Commerce players to continue to drive the logistics and supply of goods and also encourage more Nigerians to imbibe digital purchase and payment for goods and services,” he noted.  
To stop COVID-19 transmission, although President Buhari had announced other preventive measures including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, indefinite restriction of inter-state movement except for vehicles carrying essentials including groceries, food, agriculture inputs, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and a ban on social and religious gatherings, regular handwashing with soap and running water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and the wearing of facemasks and hand gloves in public, social distancing remains a critical factor in the fight against the pandemic.

By Ayomide Oriade

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Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga

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Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.

 

 

The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.

 

 

In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:

“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

 

 

“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.

 

 

“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.

 

 

A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.

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Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture

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ALAAFIN

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

 

 

The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.

 

 

PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.

 

 

According to a source, who spoke to  PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige;  a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu,  Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.

 

 

A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.

 

 

The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

 

The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

 

 

The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.

 

 

“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.

 

 

“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”

 

On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”

 

 

On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”

 

 

But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.

 

 

Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.

 

 

 

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NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital

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Bandits

Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.

 

 

Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.

 

 

“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”

 

 

“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.

 

 

“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.

 

 

“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”

 

 

 

Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.

 

 

“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.

 

 

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.

 

 

He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.

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