From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 End-Term Review Report, and transitioning of the Taskforce to a Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 effective April 1 2021 till 31st December 2021.
The PSC will now meet once a month but keep the nation informed on regular basis.
Chairman of PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said this on the last media briefing of the task force before the transition.
He said: “Mr. President has considered the Report and has APPROVED the following:
That the PTF will transition to a Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, effective from 1 April 2021, with a modified mandate to reflect the non-emergent status of COVID-19 as a potentially long-term pandemic;
That the structure of the PSC shall reflect the new focus of the response with a targeted approach on vaccine oversight, risk communication, international travel quarantine processes and sub-national engagement; and That the tenure of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) shall last till 31st December, 2021.”
Mustapha said the PSC going forward would: “maintain the present constitution, functions and strategies of the PTF; be supported by a slim technical and administrative structure.
The SGF said President Buhari has also approved that the current National Incident Manager Dr. Mukhtar Mohammed formally take over from the National Coordinator and function as the Head Technical Secretariat and member of the PSC.
He said the PSC will maintain Policy/Leadership Secretariat from the OSGF that will sustain institutional memory and records; and a private sector supported Transition Consultant that will sustain the multi-sectoral relations and policy guidance; coordinate the Vaccine Roll out, deployment and administration; improve on the multi-sectoral systems; meet less frequently while maintaining effective communication with Nigerians; monitor and audit on going systems, reforms and infrastructure development in the health sector.
Mustapha said: “As we close this phase of the National Response, the PTF wishes to express its profound gratitude to every individual and organisations that played a part in the National Response. It has not been an easy journey, but your companionship and support helped us forge ahead and accomplish these modest successes. Given the developments around the world, we must recognize the fact that the next phase will be challenging, critical and would require extreme vigilance/collaboration.”
The SGF thanked Aliyu for his commitment and effective leadership of the technical team in the last one year.
“He left his family and his primary duties in the United Kingdom to take up a unique national call and has performed in an exemplary manner”, he said.
Mustapha added: “I need to reiterate that humanity is not yet out of the woods. We need to stand firm against vaccine hesitancy, fake news, vaccine nationalism and all such challenges blocking the achievement of overcoming the pandemic. REMEMBER, NOBODY IS SAFE UNTIL EVERYONE IS SAFE
“Finally, as we return to work after the Easter break, we urge everyone to be vigilant, stay safe, observe public health measures even if you have received your first dose of the vaccine and take responsibility. The second year of the COVID-19 national response will be as challenging as the first, we cannot afford to rest on our oars.”
Meanwhile, a consignment of 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines was donated by the Government of India to Nigeria.
The Acting Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Velagaleti Surendra made the donations of the 100,000 doses of vaccines, manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, Pune, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility, to the PTF Tuesday.
He said the vaccines arrived at the Abuja airport from Mumbai via Addis Ababa
on 26 March 2021 and delivered to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) by the High Commission of India.
He said: “The Covishield vaccine manufactured at the Serum Institute of India is the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by NAFDAC, Nigeria. Its first lot of 3.92 million doses of vaccines under COVAX had reached Nigeria on 2 March 2021.
“The bilateral donation of 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines is in fulfilment of 2 the announcement made by the High Commissioner of India at that time.”
He said that the supply of vaccines to Nigeria is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment, made at the UNGA in September 2020, that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help humanity in fighting COVID-19.
He added that these supplies of Made in India vaccines to Nigeria is in
keeping with India’s longstanding, age-old andtime-tested ties with Nigeria, based
on close firiendship and deep mutual trust.