Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Champion on the Containment of COVID-19 in the West African Sub-Region, has donated N67 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to the Government and People of São Tomé and Principe.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure at Monday’s briefing in Abuja.
ECOWAS leaders had in April appointed President Buhari as COVID-19 response ‘Champion’.
As Champion, Buhari coordinates the COVID-19 response and eradication process in the region.
According to Mustapha, President Buhari’s leadership of the regional effort ‘would be more impactful if Nigerians demonstrate that our National Response could be replicable in other West African countries by changing their behaviour.’
The PTF Chairman also admonished stakeholders in the education sector to ensure adherence to all agreed protocols as schools open for exit examinations classes.
Mustapha explained that though reopening of schools for exit examinations was considered necessary because the education sector is critical to the development of the nation, the reopening still remains a source for concern because schools remain a veritable ground for community transmission of the virus.
‘Similarly, we informed you about the date that exit examination classes in schools would reopen preparatory to the commencement of examinations. I wish to restate that the Education sector is critical for the development of our children and our nation.
‘Reopening the sector is also a source of concern based on the fact that the school system remains a veritable ground for increasing community transmission if appropriate protocols are not put in place and more importantly adhered to.
‘In this regard, the PTF wishes to implore stakeholders to ensure that the agreed protocols are put in place and measures strictly adhered to,’ he charged.
On the PTF’s efforts at finding new and safer ways of sorting out critical public issues, Mustapha said the task force was already concluding discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on what the guidelines should be for the upcoming elections, especially in Edo and Ondo States.
The SGF, however, charged candidates, political party leaders, supporters and the electorate to bear in mind that COVID-19 is still very much around and still very active and dangerous, as they to go about the upcoming elections.
‘The National Response would continue to guide the adoption of sector-specific guidelines and protocols just as the PTF is currently concluding discussions with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on appropriate guidelines to be adopted for elections beginning with the August 8th Bye-Election in Nasarawa State to be followed by those for Edo and Ondo States in September and October respectively.
‘I, therefore, wish to use this opportunity to implore party leaders, aspirants, members and supporters to remain mindful of the virulent nature of COVID-19 during electioneering campaigns and other election processes. We need to remain alive to enjoy the benefits of our democracy,’ he warned.
Mustapha said further that surveillance had commenced in the identified high-burden council areas of the country.
‘The PTF continues to push forward with the Community engagement, risk communication and support to States. There is on-going surveillance in the high burden Local Government Areas just as we ramp up our precision efforts. Similarly, the Federal Government is supporting the States to firm up their Incidence Action Plans preparatory to their accessing the World Bank facility for the fight against COVID-19,’ he said.
He said further that ‘the PTF will submit its 6th Interim Report to Mr President and subject to his approval, we hope to present the way forward to Nigerians at the next briefing on Thursday 6th August 2020.’
The PTF chairman thanked all Nigerians that continue to respond to call for involvement in the National Response.
He said: ‘In this regard, we thank the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, for donating four motorized modular fumigators (two each to the PTF and the FCT).
‘In the same vein, we want to appreciate the UN Basket and European Union for delivering the second tranche of the PPE, medical supplies and equipment,’ he said.