The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PFG) and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Salihu Moh’d Lukman, has expressed fear the increasing cases of COVID-19 pandemic may necesitate a national lockdown.
In a statement in Abuja on Saturday, titled: “Fight against Spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria: Issues and Factors Hindering Success”, the APC leader observed that with the lockdown on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States, the number of cases in the affected areas (except Ogun State) has been on the increase with new cases reported in more states despite the Presidential lockdown.
He observed that as at March 29, 2020 when the Presidential lockdown was declared on FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, Nigeria had 111 confirmed cases but 10 days after, 177 new cases were confirmed bringing the figure to 288 with an average increase of at least 17 confirmed cases per day.
Lukman further argued that by Tuesday April 14, 2020 when the two weeks lockdown would have expired, Nigeria would be expecting a minimum of another 85 confirmed cases, which could raise the total confirmed cases in the country to more than 370.
According to Lukman: “With number of cases spreading to more states and also on the increase within states, the possibility of extending the lockdown to other states could be high. Again with number of cases in Osun, Edo, Oyo, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Delta, Enugu, Ekiti, Rivers, Benue, Katsina and Ondo states, these are readily candidates for the extension of the lockdown to cover these states.
“Given that after the lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun, more states recorded new cases, wouldn’t this be indicative of the need to have a national lockdown?”
The PGF boss, who berated the lukewarm attitude of people to the fight against the scourge of the virus, identified the refusal of many people to accept that COVID-19 constitutes threat to their lives and influence of various conspiracy theories being propagated around the social media as the biggest obstacles to the fight against the pandemic in the country.
Lukman pointed out that the attitude of people to the killer virus left much to be desired with the frightening experiences in countries like Italy, United States, France, Germany, Spain and Iran where within a space of 5 – 6 weeks recorded exponential rise in number of cases from as low as 5 to 468,895 cases and death records from these cases similarly shot up to over 18,000.
He warned: “If we are unable to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the experiences of Italy, Spain, United States and France will be child play. Should that happen, records of cases and deaths could be phenomenal.
“Combinations of high incidences and poor records of citizens in the country having medical conditions bordering on tuberculosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, etc. it is hard to imagine how, as a nation we want to risk such a possibility”.
Lukman also asked the federal government to review and change its disbursement strategy of various palliatives pushed out to ameliorate the suffering of the people during the lockdown period and called for the expansion of Boss Mustapha -led Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to include the National Assembly and State Governments to get the buy-in of all Nigerians.
“Once the PTF is able to configure itself this way, the issue of palliatives and how to administer it can be easily handled. It is important that both the PTF and the Presidency are able to correct problems of trust and ensure that it is able to minimise all distractive debates around administering palliatives.
“In order to also address the controversy surrounding the need to continue with the school feeding programme when pupils are at home, Lukman advised that the project be stopped but funds for it be directed to support families of these children.
“For instance, once schools are closed, there is no need talking of school feeding. This does not mean, the resources for the school feeding cannot be directed to support the families of the schoolchildren for the duration of the fight against Covid-19. It is simply a matter of redirecting how it is disbursed. In any case, whether we recognise that or not, so long as schools are closed, method of feeding those children have to change,” he maintained.
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