Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Fred Itua, Abuja and Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged governors to work closely with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to engender better harmony in the effort to curb the spread.
A statement by presidential aide, Femi Adesina, said Buhari spoke yesterday during an online meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
“I have directed that they work very closely with the Governors. We have to be very careful. We need to continue to educate and persuade the people to accept the reality of the situation, and do all that is necessary to stay safe,” Buhari said.
Buhari said the pandemic was “beyond technology, power and resources” noting that even the most advanced countries were recording the highest casualty figures from COVID-19.
President Buhari participated in the video conference at the Council Chambers at the State House, Abuja.
The statement said the meeting also discussed economic and security issues affecting the country with the NGF commending the president on the leadership and direction he has given the country in combating the pandemic.
It quoted the president as saying the PTF briefed him on steps it planned to take in response to the pandemic.
Chairman of the NGF and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, led members of the forum in the online meeting. The meeting which started at 12 noon ended at about 1pm.
In attendance were the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Christian group warns over movement of Almajirai
Nigeria Christian Graduate fellowship (NCGF) has called on southern governors and security operatives to beef up surveillance at borders due to the indiscriminate inter-state travels by unauthorised persons and the inherent danger.
The group expressed worry about reported incidents of lorry-loads of child beggars from the north, who are popularly known as Almajiri, intercepted at various parts of southern Nigeria by vigilantes and task force personnel.
They queried why despite the several military and police checkpoints between Oturkpa Junction in Benue State and Iriebe in Rivers State, the infractions were going on particularly at night.
Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) recently banned the Almajiri system and ordered the relocation of all street kids to their states of origin and parents as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and governors of the South tagged: ‘Re-movement of human cargo from the North to South,’ the organisation accused security operatives of complicity and violation of restrictions on inter-state movements.
The statement signed by the group’s National President, Prof. Charles Adisa and General Secretary, Mr. Philip Nwaegeruo, expressed concerns that “some individuals are disguising as goods in trucks and trooping from the north to the south, despite the lock-down by the federal and state governments.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects hiding as cargoes were able-bodied persons, generally categorised as Almajirai being off-loaded surreptitiously in South East, South South and South West geo-political zones. Similar sinister migrations have also been reported in the Middle-Belt, including Nasarawa State. The real mission behind this illegality in the wake of increasing spread of the deadly disease in many Northern states raises serious concerns,” the NCGF said.
The Christian group alleged that some of the persons sneaking into the south had tested positive or were asymptomatic to COVID-19 may escalate community transmissions in the south, where infection and spread has been minimal.
Stakeholders urge FG to consider bailout for media industry
Stakeholders in the media industry have demanded bailout from the Federal Government to tackle the financial crisis rocking the industry amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a communique issued at the end of the National Media Virtual Roundtable jointly organised by ActionAid Nigeria and Journalists Against Poverty, the stakeholders expressed the fear of mass downsizing and job losses in the media industry saying if this is allowed it could pose a security threat as unemployment is a key driver of insecurity.
“Stakeholders and government need to jointly develop a legal framework to guide and effect bailout in the media industry without prejudice as applied to the banking, telecommunications and aviation industry and without recourse to politicking its intervention and abuse of power or as a means of control.
“Media owners, managers and practitioners should recognise that digitalisation has come to stay for good, thus evolve, be more creative, innovative and technology driven in order to survive. Media and civil society organisations (CSOs) should better coordinate as allies to attain the mutual objective that puts the interest of Nigerians at the centre. CSOs should support media’s full transition to digitalisation by building capacity of journalists and bring back activism as in the days of old where public interest based on truths and selflessness determined media contents.
“Digitalised operations are no longer an option for media owners and managers considering the current financial constraints, overhead costs and the increasing digital advertising. Lack of innovation as a major threat to the Nigeria media existence. Besides, physical and operational innovation, a mental shift from the way journalism has been practiced needs to occur to address current operational realities.
“Merger and acquisition will not be a lasting solution to survival, but financial and operational innovative strategies must be urgently developed. The public and private sector needs to see investment in the media as an investment in the nation and its people, not a favour to the practitioners. Despite its watchdog role, the media has been ignored to fizzle out, and this is most glaring in the face of the current pandemic. Responsible journalism must be encouraged to fulfil its mandate as enshrined in Section 22 of Nigeria’s Constitution.
“The public interest must be defined by the media to align with the constitutional provision which states that the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people,” the communique said.
The event with the theme ‘Between Survival and Existence: Media Objectivity in the Face of Dwindling Fortunes’ was organised to commemorate the 2020 World Press Freedom Day.
The roundtable had no fewer than 68 participants, among them, journalists, media and public relations practitioners, communication executives and representatives of civil society organisations, with all endorsing the communique.
Speakers at the occasion included Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher, Premium Times Newspaper; Funke Egbemode, Osun State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation/ immediate past President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); ‘Sola Adebawo, Manager for Communications, Policy, Government & Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria and Mid-Africa, and Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi.
A’Ibom lawmakers attack FG over lack of support
Akwa Ibom State caucus of the National Assembly has decried the failure of the Federal Government to support the state in the construction of isolation centres for COVID-19 patients.
Speaking through the senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Mr. Chris Ekpenyong, the lawmakers complained that the state was marginalised in the fight against COVID-19 as it was not getting the kind of support given to other states by the Federal Government.
Ekenyoung in a statement in Abuja yesterday said: “We observed with disappointment the failure of the Federal Government and Local Content Commission to give any support to the Akwa Ibom government in the construction of isolation centres like it is the case in some states that are even managing temporary structures for COVID-19. This massive project has been undertaken by the state government alone. The state is sufficiently equipped to manage and contain the future outbreak of any other disease,” Ekpenyong said.
Describing the isolation centre being constructed by the state government, the lawmakers described the project as top of the range and perhaps “the only permanent isolation centre built by any state government in the wake of the dreaded and prevalent COVID-19 pandemic.”
The lawmakers who visited the project site located in Ituk Mbang, Uruan Local Government, lauded Governor Udom Emmanuel for not only building a permanent structure, but driving the project at a speed that marvels every body.
“Udom Emmanuel has initiated this project in furtherance of offering a more improved and accessible healthcare services to Akwa Ibom people and residents in the State. With what we have seen in terms of concept, design and sophistication, I commend Udom Emmanuel on behalf of my colleagues for his vision and pragmatic approaches in contending the Coronavirus, and again thinking practically about the health of Akwa Ibom people,” he said.