How Govs are frustrating fight against COVID-19 -- FG/

The Federal Government has observed state governors are undermining ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the country by lifting ban on congregational gatherings, especially at worship centres.

Recall that Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, recently lifted the ban on congregational gatherings and ‘Eid’ prayers in the state, urging the people to instead adhere to social distancing directive.

Some other governors have also introduced similar directive to gradually relax the lockdown in their states. 

But reacting to the development during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja on Thursday, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of PTF on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said such move by governors was inimical to fight against the killer virus in Nigeria.

He said: “I’m particular about congregational gatherings. Large gatherings will exposed even the 20 persons that we want to protect.  We want our sub-nationals government to really reconsider their decisions on allowing large gatherings to take place until when we have been fully prepared and we can adjudge that the moment has come for that to be allowed.

“Similarly emphasised is the need for states to diligently implement and enforce compliance. Particularly, I underscored the need for the governors to provide personal and strong leadership, carry the policy of community ownership to the grass roots and create deeper awareness.

“The governors were also advised on the decision taken by some of their colleagues to permit large gatherings as such decisions could inadvertently endanger the elderly, the sick and those with underlying factors during such gatherings. The strong advisory from the PTF is that large gatherings beyond 20 persons remains prohibited and should be adhered to.”

Also speaking, PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, called on the governors to ensure their directives as it concerns combating spread of the virus are in the interest of the entire populace.

Aliyu said: “First of all, I will like to say that the continuous measures that we advise, always take into cognisance the social, economic, religious, cultural implications of these measures. In addition to that, we know that the effectiveness of the measures really depends on the acceptability, the owning by the communities. Whenever the PTF puts out guidelines, it is never done in isolation to state governments. We always tell them in advance what the likely recommendations will be. If we get approval from Mr. President, we go back to them and tell them what part of their recommendations have been agreed on or not.

“We will continue to work with the state governments to make sure that whatever is put in place is in the best interest of their citizens.

“We are in the business of saving lives. When it comes to restrictions, I will like to give you an example. Saudi Arabia for instance, I’m sure you are aware, they had about 240 deaths, they have had over 40,000 infections. So, their case fatality rate is much lower than Nigeria’s. But what have they done? They are planning to actually lockdown the country, 24 hours lockdown for five days during the period of the eid. Have we had any umrah this year? No. Are we likely to have hajj? We probably wouldn’t. So we are living in an usual situations, we are living in an usual times.  As far as we are concerned, the role of government is to protect the lives of the citizens and ensure their well being.”