Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha yesterday condemned the serial violations of COVID-19 safety protocols by politicians as preparations for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states is fast approaching, saying this was the time to declare a lockdown.
He said if he had his way, he would declare another round of lockdown on the country, urging politicians to devise ingenuous ways of reaching the electorate without breaching physical distancing measures and the rule on wearing facemask.
Meanwhile, as the increasing number of COVID-19 cases continues to take its toll on the nation’s health care system, particularly as it relates to the number of bed spaces, the government said it has established Community Support Centres in high burden local government areas.
It also frowned on the use of face shields as a replacement for face masks, advising that shields should only be used in addition to wearing masks and not as a replacement.
While also expressing worry over what appears a renewed wave of infections in Europe, China and particularly Brazil, which the government said shared a lot of demographic similarities with Nigeria, the government equally added that the result of a perception survey it recently carried out across the country showed that 80 percent of Nigerian parents were unwilling to allow their wards resume school until there was full guarantee that they would not be exposed to danger.
It said by next week, it would announce when the airspace would be reopened for domestic flights.
On its part, the World Health Organization WHO announced that there are currently 220 vaccine candidates undergoing development at different stages.
An obviously displeased Mustapha said even as a politician, he has decided not to attend any political rally, saying Nigerians had become too casual with the pandemic and that the time has come to take drastic measures against it.
He said: “Gatherings are still not okay. Any form of gatherings are still not okay. Yes, I know it is an electioneering period for some states in Nigeria and people will begin to congregate but we must begin to devise other means.
‘’Otherwise, the people who are aspiring to lead these offices will end up spending the entire budget of their states in dealing with the problem they would have created, if they become governors.
So, it is a very serious thing. I am a politician and I have been in this business for almost 40 years but I can assure you that there is nothing that will take me to any political rally. Nothing. I will use other mechanisms of reaching the electorate.
‘’But to congregate in a political rally? For what? So, we have to be very careful. The choice is ours. No one can make that choice for you. The truth about it is that efforts, scepticism and disregard will not take us anywhere.
“If it were within my powers, this is the time to lockdown. Lockdown might not be a popular thing, but this is the time to lockdown because we are already romancing with COVID-19 and it is not good. So, the message is that we should continue to take personal responsibility.’’
The SGF expressed concerns at the epidemiological situation of some countries where there is a second wave of transmission.
He said: “You would have noticed that the number of confirmed cases and fatalities released in the last few days have been on the high side. While we attribute this to increased testing, it also goes to confirm the extent of the spread within our communities, especially the 21 high burden LGAs identified as accounting for over 60% of infections nationwide.
“Closely related to the high number of confirmed cases and fatalities at home are lessons drawn from other jurisdictions. From Europe to China to the United States of America, the rising numbers and reported resurgence in some cases should also be of concern to us.
‘’Of particular concern, however, is the case of Brazil which has exceeded the one million mark of confirmed cases. We had informed you that Brazil shares several cultural, demographic and climatic affinities with us. If any lesson is to be learned, Brazil should be a subject of interest that will make us change our behaviour.’’
According to Mustapha, the PTF has noted and acknowledged progress being made globally and domestically to search for a cure for COVID-19, especially the recent announcement that 4, 000 people have volunteered for a vaccine trial in the United Kingdom , adding that this gives some room for greater hope.
“We similarly look forward to the outcomes of validation processes for submissions made by some Nigerian scientists.
“I wish to inform you that by the end of this week, the PTF would be submitting a report containing our assessment and recommendations to Mr. President. We, therefore, urge Nigerians to await next steps,” said the SGF.