In preparation to conclude the second phase of the relaxed lockdown on Monday, the Federal Government of Nigeria is contemplating opening up more sectors of the government.
The secretary to the government of the federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), Boss Mustapha, made this disclosure on Sunday following the submission of the PTF reports to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Boss Mustapha, the PTF gave advice and suggestions on allowing worship centres, schools and businesses across the country to resume operations.
“But you know that Mr President is the only one that can take decisions in respect of that. In the framework, the states are sub-nationals; they have their responsibilities too.
So, it is in the exercise of those responsibilities that they met with religious bodies and agreed on the protocols and guidelines on how to open up. But in the framework of the national response, we are considering that” he said.
Mustapha explained that the PTF reports considered several issues surrounding the relaxation of the lockdown and that the PTF waits for President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to make further recommendations.
Mustapha further added that states will be accountable for the next phase of the lockdown easing.
“The issue of easing up, you know we were in the first phase and we had an extension of two weeks for the first phase. The next phase should be the second phase and along with that, we came with a lot of recommendations which we expect Mr President to consider,” he said.
“I can assure you of one thing: the ownership of the next phase will be the responsibility of the states under national supervision and coordination because we have gone into community transmission. Where are the communities? The communities are in the states.
“So, the ownership of the next phase will be that of the states, the local governments, the traditional institutions, the religious leaders at the different levels of our communities. That is where the problem is.
“Like we have kept saying, 20 local government (areas) out of 744 accounts for 60 per cent of confirmed cases in Nigeria today. So, where are these 20 local governments? They are in the communities. It means that we have reached the epitome of community transmission, so we must get the communities involved.”
In response to questions that arose on the rejection of Kogi state COVID_19 results that was declared by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Mustapha assured that the PTF will concentrate on having a coordinated national response as “no island exists as far as COVID_19 is concerned in the country”.
Meanwhile, the SGF assured that states would henceforth make decisions that will be in alignment with curbing the spread of the virus in the country.
“We discussed challenges generally and I believe that in the context of those discussions, certain steps will be taken. We are doing everything to ensure that the entire nation is on the same page with one response and it is very important that we realise that no state is an island unto itself, when you deal with public health matters,” said the SGF.
“Whatever happens in a particular locality has the consequences of spilling off to other constituencies. That is the message that we’ll continue to drive in our pursuit of getting everybody to be on board and I can assure you that no island exists as far as COVID-19 is concerned in this country.
“We must integrate all the responses from the different segments of the community and the state and have everybody to be on the same page. We will continue to pursue that and we must also ensure that it happens. I can assure about that.”
Furthermore, he said that the president applauded the efforts of the frontline workers especially the medical personnel, the security personnel and those who are in close contacts with patients during testing and administering treatment.
Besides, he said that the president urged them to continually sound the message of compliance to ears of every Nigerian, adding that every Nigerian should be personally responsible for his/her safety and by extension that of their families and loved ones.
“He’s also appreciative of the work of the frontline workers, particularly the medical personnel, the security personnel and the people who come in contact with the patients in the time of collection of samples, the testings, the care that they are giving,” Mustapha said.
“We also discussed the issue of compliance and he said we should continue to appeal to Nigerians and drive home the point that it’s a personal responsibility for every Nigerian to ensure that he keeps himself safe and by extension keeping his family, loved ones and community safe.
“We will continue to drive that message. It’s a message of persuasion, it’s a message that should make people take personal responsibility for their protection and health and we will not relent on that,” Mustapha said.
On the opening of the economy, the PTF Chairman answered that some sectors of the economy are already in operation at the initial easing of the lockdown.
“After we receive the approval of Mr President tonight or tomorrow (Monday) morning, we will now know which (other) segment of the economy is allowed to open,” he added.
Mustapha while speaking on Nigeria’s COVID-19 statistics said “We are winning. As a matter of fact, you will juxtapose the rate of cases with our fatality rate, which is basically about 3 per cent. In other countries and climes, it is over 10 per cent.”