By Emmanuel Oloniruha(Abuja)/ Monday Ajogun (Benin) March 25, 2020
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has advised the Federal and State Governments to provide palliatives to Nigerians to enable them comply and survive the directive to work from home.
This is as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, implored his fellow Governors and all those who attended the Wednesday, March 18 NGF meetings to go for the coronavirus test.
Abubakar, whose son recently tested positive to the coronavirus, in a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the call was important as large percentage of Nigerians did not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self isolation.
He applauded the various proactive measures taken by government to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
The measures, according to him, include stay at home orders, shutting down non-essential markets and other places of mass gatherings, while also giving guidelines for social distancing.
“However, we must accept the fact that much of the Nigerian public have a subsistence existence.
“A large percentage of our people do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self isolation and even lockdown.
“It is, therefore, incumbent on the Federal and State Governments to provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their own safety.
“At an approximate 30 million households or thereabouts, government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as supplement for food stuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind.”
Abubakar added that it was also time for the National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that would cater for all Nigerian citizens.
He also called on all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance.
“I also urge these telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ₦1,500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service, as the case may be.”
Abubakar commended all individuals and corporate organisations who had one way or the other provided some form of relief for the Nigerian people.
“This is what makes Nigeria great, when we help each other at such crisis times as this, irrespective of any differences.
“I further call on more corporations and individuals with capacity, to assist the public in these trying times.
“To this end, Priam Group pledges N50 million on my behalf as my humble contribution to a relief Fund that will form part of the stimulus package,” he said
Fayemi, who is currently on self-isolation and awaiting his COVID -19 test result, gave the advice in a statement issued by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF Secretariat, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Fayemi implored his fellow Governors and all those who attended the Wednesday March 18 meetings and other subsequent meetings to tread on the path of caution and do everything necessary to test for the virus and self-isolate.
These, according to him, include the personal aides of those governors, so as to ensure that the spread of the disease remains at its lowest in the country.
“In the same vein, he calls upon all Nigerians who attended functions, at which at least one person was positively identified with COVID – 19, to immediately self-isolate and come forward to the NCDC for identification and to do tests.
“Hiding from the public and self treatment, places the entire public at risk. We should all do our part to stop the spread of this highly infectious disease.
“COVID -19 virus infection is treatable. The earlier it is identified the better.
“The Chairman wishes all persons with COVID-19 in Nigeria and worldwide, full recovery. For all those who lost their lives, may their souls Rest In Peace.”
Fayemi said that test became imperative after having attended a series of meetings with a few individuals who have tested positive with COVID -19.
He chaired the Forum’s meeting held on March 18 and also addressed an audience that attended an exclusive breakfast meeting between governors and the World Bank the following day, Thursday March 19.
In both instances, there were persons in attendance, who eventually turned out to be positive carriers of the Coronavirus.
Subsequently, the NGF Chairman attended the National Economic Council meeting and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors meeting, all of which involved same or other persons positively identified with the COVID-19 virus.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning the Chairman said, “I just took a Covid 19 test, having gone into self-isolation since yesterday evening.
“I’m asymptomatic and feel well, but I was in meetings with two people who had since tested positive. I look forward to an all clear and have encouraged all my colleagues to take the test. JKF”.
The NGF Chairman has been in the forefront of the advocacy for strict adherence to the protocols that help mitigate the spread of the novel virus.
He has advised all staff of the NGF and their families, particularly those whose duties included secretarial services at the meetings, to self-isolate.
Fayemi said this should be done in accordance with the existing procedure and regulations already outlined to ensure public safety and to try whenever or wherever possible to get tested.
The governor urged all Nigerians to heed the stay at home order by the government unless on essential duty.
Meanwhile, Mr Philip Shaibu, Edo Deputy Governor, says the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr Frank Okiye, has tested positive to Coronavirus.
Shaibu said this while addressing newsmen in Benin on Wednesday.
“The index case of Coronavirus in Edo, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Frank Okiye, who traveled to the United Kingdom came back and has been on self-isolation.
“He was tested and proved positive. He is in stable condition and his family members have been tested and they all came out negative.
“Gov. Godwin Obaseki has also gone on self-isolation, following his close contact with Gov. Bala Muhammad and the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, who have both tested positive to coronavirus,” he said.
Shaibu said that the State Government had adopted measures to prevent spread of the disease in the state.
“Government has acquired 40 drums of hand sanitisers for distribution across all Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
”We are still maintaining that a gathering of persons above 20 is restricted, markets remain closed, except for those selling essential commodities like food and medicine,’’ he said.
Shaibu said that 111 persons had been tracked so far, 64 per cent of them located and five samples taken for test, assuring that the state has a very strong contact tracing team because of its experience with in the handling of Lassa fever.