Coronavirus: Nigerians must not panic – Presidency

•frowns at lawmakers’ call for Buhari to speak directly

The presidency has urged Nigerians not or panic over the global pandemic, coronavirus (COVID-19), saying that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has taken some steps to mitigate the effects on the Nigerian people.

In a statement issued in Abuja, on Thursday, by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), it also frowned at the call by “ranking members” of the National Assembly for the president to personally address Nigerians on the outbreak.

The statement noted that Nigeria, like every other country around the world, is dealing with the unexpected and unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

It pointed out the measures already put in place to prevent the spread of the disease including the restrictions of travel from 13 countries and the suspension of visa issuance to nationals of these countries.

The statement added: “While Nigeria delights in welcoming the world, the safety and protection of our citizens and land must take priority.

“The various agencies of government including Media owned by the government have embarked on vigorous campaigns promoting hygiene measures.

“There are, currently, very stringent regimes of checks at the points of air and sea entry into the country. The effort Nigeria is making as is well known, has already received the commendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

The statement expressed the presidency’s assurance to Nigerians that government was on top of the situation.

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It added: “There is no cause for panic. So far measures put in place are working efficiently. What this country is doing has been recommended as a template.

“The President trusts the relevant Ministers in his cabinet and the officials of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who are providing him with constant updates and professional counsel. These officials have a track record of competence.

“The President instructed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to reduce the pump price of fuel. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a crash in the global price of crude oil, and the President decided that every Nigerian should benefit from this.

“Subsequently, the NNPC announced a 20 naira deduction, and the pump price of fuel has now been reduced from N145 per litre to N125 per litre.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday announced a credit relief of N1.1Trillion Naira to businesses affected by the pandemic. The Bank has also established a facility for household, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and announced a reduction of interest rates for loans from 9% to 5%.

“We do not want to create panic. But we will continue to update the Nigerian public with relevant information.

“We plead with every Nigerian to cooperate with the government in the fight against Covid-19 (coronavirus) and obey all instructions from the NCDC.

“We have a high-level Presidential Coordination Committee chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). This body should be allowed to carry out its duties.”

On the call for President Buhari to address Nigerians, the statement maintained: “We also plead with Nigerians not to see this most peculiar of times as one to be politicised or seen as an opportunity to regurgitate grudges against the government or the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

“North, South, East, and West – all Nigerians must unite to fight this plague, irrespective of religious or ideological affiliation.

“In this regard, populist advocacies such as the one accusing the President of ‘complacency’ simply because he has not made a television address by ranking members of our respected parliament are cheap and sensational. These are not the times for populism and cheap politics.”

It said Buhari thanked all those at the forefront of the fight against the deadly disease.



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