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Buhari’s COVID-19 package (1)

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari eventually made the long-awaited national broadcast outlining the Federal Government’s broad policy direction in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Unlike the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who apologised to his compatriots for ordering a shutdown that hit the poor very hard, Buhari shook off criticisms, insisting that measures taken were tailored to reflect our local peculiarities and relying strongly on the guidance of medical professionals. Recalling measures taken so far, such as healthcare initiatives, fiscal and monetary policies as well as security responses, he added: “Our focus, therefore, remains to urgently and drastically contain these cases and to support other states (apart from Lagos and Abuja) and regions in the best way we can”. The highpoint of the broadcast was the order for a total shutdown of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States, which are the epicentres of the pandemic in Nigeria for 14 days to avoid a doomsday scenario where infection rate gets out of hand. We rate the President’s broadcast above average and regret that it did not come early enough. Governments all over the world see this pandemic as “an invisible enemy”. It is with war-footing that most of them are confronting the scourge, with the Commanders-in-Chief taking full charge, even when some of them, such as Premier Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, tested positive and had to self-isolate. READ ALSO: COVID-19: CBN suspends cheque clearing An early broadcast and daily briefing from the highest political authority in the country would have served in better galvanising Nigerians and governments at all levels to face this challenge in the manner that China did and conquered it. Because of this laid-back attitude many Nigerians have not yet fully come on board. They have not seen the danger for what it is. Even some governors are still handling this danger with superstitious misapprehension. That bit about the continuation of the school feeding programme had no place in the broadcast. All schools are closed nationwide. Can there be school feeding without pupils? Can we have school feeding while at the same time asking people to stay at home and maintain social distancing? These reservations notwithstanding, however, we commend the Federal Government, especially the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, some of the governors, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, our frontline billionaires and others who have demonstrated leadership and patriotism in this fight. We must all join hands. We commend the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his humility in queuing behind the President’s lock-down of Lagos even after opting for a partial lock-down. It is for the good of everyone. We hope that every effort will be made to provide succour to the poorer and needier sections of the Nigerian populace to ensure hunger does not kill more people than the pandemic.

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Written by Nawa4u

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