By Florence Onuegbu
Lagos, April 7, 2020
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 says only President Muhammadu Buhari can decide whether or not to extend the ongoing 14 days lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.
The Task Force Chairman, Boss Mustapha, made this known while briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos, after inspection of some facilities put in place by the state government to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
He also said that 70,000 metric tons of grains from the country’s strategic reserves would be released for distribution, out of which 6,800 metric tons would be distributed in Lagos.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said that part of the reason the committee visited Lagos was to assess to what extent the objective of the lockdown had been achieved.
He said that the committee would be making recommendations to the president based on its observations, after which the president would decide whether or not to extend the lockdown.
Mustapha said that the Federal Government would distribute 6,800 metric tons of grains in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, as part of the measures to cushion the effects of lockdown.
The task force chairman said that President Buhari had approved the release of 70,000 metric tons of grains from the strategic grains reserve for distribution.
According to him, approval for the release of the grains is in recognition of the impact of the lockdown order on the poor, physically challenged, the elderly and the vulnerable.
”Out of this, about 6,800 will be distributed in Lagos, Ogun and FCT, while the rest will be distributed to the 13 frontline states that have recorded cases of the COVID-19 disease.
”I assure you that the distribution of the Lagos State share will commence shortly.
”Let me state at this point that it is not the desire of government to punish its citizen by restricting their movement.
“But rather out of the abundance of caution, that difficult decision was taken to save lives by preventing spread of the virus.
”Reports have been received on the general level of satisfactory compliance in Lagos with the lockdown order and we have similarly received reports of violations.
”In this case, I commend the instant action taken by the Lagos State Government by prosecuting and convicting notable violators, which shows that nobody should be above the law,” he said.
According to him, COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant public health emergency of international concern, having recorded over a million cases, causing over 50,000 deaths worldwide.
He assured Nigerians of the unwavering commitment of President Buhari to the war against COVID-19 and his readiness to mobilise resources to achieve the national objectives.
“The nation is at war with an unseen, but very potent enemy, which all must collaborate to fight and defeat it.
”To successfully prosecute this war, we must own it, we must participate in it, we must create awareness, we must obey rules and regulations.
“We must stay at home when ordered, and we must not conceal any information from the medical personnel and disease control authorities.
”One person who is infected in a community can endanger the entire community, regardless of its size and status or position of the people living there. Coronavirus is real and dangerous.
”Let me appeal to Lagosians, indeed, all Nigerians to play our roles in defeating Coronavirus.
”To win the war, we must abide by instructions to stay-at-home, maintain social distancing, personal hygiene and report all suspected cases to the designated health authorities,” he said.
Speaking, Lagos State Governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended the Presidential Task Force for coming to the state to inspect the facilities.
Sanwo-Olu said that efforts were being made to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic was defeated.