Probity drives national response on COVID-19

This the season of the new normal. But despite the clear and present danger on the virulence and destruction wrought by coronavirus, not a few Nigerians, including supposedly informed elites, have chosen to live in denial.

It is not my portion, the fanatics will say even as many notable and ordinary families bury their loved ones daily!

The Federal Government, through President Muhammadu Buhari’s well- assembled Presidential Task force, PTF on COVID-19, has toiled daily, through excruciating meetings and consultation to draw, execute and fine-tune a National Response Strategy. There is, without doubt, more work ahead.

It is worth reiterating, to educate critics and cynics as well, that the battle against coronavirus is the responsibility of every citizen. All stakeholders, interest groups, including all tiers of government have roles to play. It is in the enlightened self interest of the rich and the poor; the elite and the common citizen to work in harmony to defeat COVID-19.

The Nigerian Constitution has spelt out the roles of each tier of government as well as the duties and responsibilities of Nigerians, as individuals. Provision of education, healthcare and potable water, for example, are on the concurrent list of responsibilities for federal and state governments. As a matter of fact, COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies in Nigeria’s health infrastructure. More critical are the lack of understanding and the tentative approach of many state governments in embracing the national response strategy.

Members of the PTF on COVID-19 have severally appreciated the enormity of the task ahead. Boss Mustapha, chairman of the team, has toiled day and night since President Buhari gave the marching order in March, last year. With candor, he has combined his task as Secretary to the Federal Government, building a robust and comprehensive national response strategy, already copied by many developed countries especially on the international travel protocols, as well as managing his home front, recently visited by coronavirus!

Facts on the policy direction and management of Nigeria’s National Response Strategy speak to the articulate composition of the response team. It parades ministers in charge of critical and strategic sectors including health, environment, education, aviation, interior, foreign affairs and humanitarian affairs. There are also experts in diverse health fields – Dr. Chike Ihekweazu, director general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control; Dr. Walter Kazadi, a public health epidemiologist, who is the country representative of the World Health Organisation; Dr. Sani Aliyu, erstwhile director general of National Agency for the Control of Aids, an expert in infectious diseases and microbiology, who was named the national coordinator of PTF.

The PTF on COVID-19 has consistently rendered reports on its activities- on its finances, collaborations with local and international agencies and organisations, among them the private sector coalition against COVID-19, CACOVID, the WHO and sundry international partners.

It is ludicrous that instead of canvassing support for the success of the national response, some misguided critics are misinforming Nigerians on the dangers of coronavirus, its prevention protocols, treatment and the potency of already discovered vaccines. Not a few analysts have beclouded the issues around testing regimen, isolation centres, availability of oxygen, and of recent, the re-opening of schools.

One analyst has even raised mud and dirt on what he considered as unwise spending in publishing information on a six-month travel restriction against 100 travellers for non-compliance with the mandatory seven-day post-arrival COVID-19 test. When has information dissemination to citizens become a misdemeanor?

The tongue-lashing should rather be for those who defied laid down protocols and opted not to be responsible. In the words of Dr. Aliyu: “The purpose of putting travel restrictions is not to name and shame.  If we just wanted to name and shame, we would just publish the passport numbers and their name and not put any penalty. No, the purpose is to make sure that travelers change their behavior and comply with our protocol. This is enforcement; we cannot put passengers name because we would be breaching confidentiality.”

The Federal Ministry of Education has explained that the decision to allow schools resume on 18 January was reached after a comprehensive appraisal of the situation undertaken by the ministry in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including state governors, commissioners of education, proprietors and heads of institutions and the various staff unions.

“Parents and institutions must, however, ensure full compliance with all COVID-19 protocols after taking time to explain the severity of the second wave of the pandemic to their wards and students. The minister urged all stakeholders in the school system to observe all protocols of wearing face masks by teachers, workers and students in all schools; washing of hands, which entails the provision of hand washing facilities at strategic locations within the schools and constant supply of water; use of alcohol-based sanitizers; gauging of body temperature and social distancing.

“Others are suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days, ensuring that there is no overcrowding by limiting the number of students in classrooms and hostel accommodation, resuscitation of functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of any suspected case to appropriate medical facilities and adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical provisions. These measures will be subject to constant review,” read a statement from the ministry.

Mustapha, in an end-year report to President Buhari in December said Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, driven by science and data, was designed to achieve three primary aims of epidemic control, namely  interrupting viral transmission; reducing the risk of the health system being overwhelmed due to increased demand and minimising mortality among the most vulnerable parts of the population.

“The other objectives include the reinvigoration of the nation’s health   infrastructure and manpower to enable Nigeria to confront any future outbreak and also build her potentials for medical tourism which has been a source of foreign exchange and brain drain over the years.

“The operations of the PTF have been driven throughout the initial six months and the extended three months mandate, by a multi-sectoral process which facilitated expansive and in-depth consideration of issues as well as speedy decision-making,” Mustapha said.

  • Kareem, a public policy analyst, is based in Abuja.

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

South-West Speakers Rally Support For Tinubu’s Rumoured Presidential Ambition
The rumoured ambition of former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to run for the office of the President in 2023 is gradually becoming a reality as current and former speakers of houses of assembly in the South-West have thrown their weight behind the…

No Harm Must Befall Bishop Kukah, CAN Warns
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has cautioned those threatening the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah, to stop their unlawful actions and also asks the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of the…

Kukah: Nigerians Have Right To Live Freely In Any Part Of Nigeria, Ortom Replies Muslim Group
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has called on Nigerians, irrespective of religious and political affiliations to uphold unity, peace and dialogue as the panacea for the myriad of problems confronting the country. The governor’s advice is coming on the heels of the statement credited to a group known as Muslim…

Your Govt Brought Reversal Of Fortune To Nigerians, PDP Tells Buhari
Against the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari call for critics to consider what he inherited, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has berated administration for allegedly reversing the country’s fortune in the five years it has been in office…

Consider What We Met When Criticizing Us, Buhari Tells Nigerian Elite
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday told the Nigerian elite that when they criticize his administration, they should take into consideration the state of the country before he assumed power. Speaking at the presidential villa, Abuja when he received in audience Reverend Yakubu Pam, the Executive…

Covid-19 Vaccines: Kano Gets Highest Allocation As Cross River Gets 1023 Doses For Its 3.8 Million Population
Cross River State with a population of 3.8 million will take home 1,023 doses of COVID-9 vaccines according to the data for the distribution of the vaccines released by the Federal Government of Nigeria in Abuja. In the data released by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, the 36 states and FCT would, in the interim share 100,000 doses, while awaiting…

You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More