Festus Mbisiogu, Coordinator of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), Guangzhou Province, and Chairman/CEO Blue Diamond Logistics, China, has commended the Federal Government of Nigeria for its prompt action to curtail the Coronavirus from spreading.
He urged the government not to relent in its efforts to fish out those who came in contact with the Italian that tested positive to virus.
Mbisiogu praised government over release of fund for the evacuation of Nigerians who are trapped in Wuhan city, China as a result of outbreak of Coronavirus in the city.
He called on Nigeria government to emulate other African countries and donate relief materials or cash to the Chinese government to help combat Coronavirus, saying it may lead to global economic crisis if not nip in bud quickly.
He speaks further about other global effects of the virus
Finally, Coronavirus is here with us and recently the Federal Government heeded to your earlier call to release fund for the evacuation of Nigerians in Wuhan city trapped there to prevent spread. Is there need to evacuate Nigerians in China now that the disease has enter the country?
First, I feel elated when I heard that the Federal Government has done the needful by releasing fund for evacuation of Nigerians trapped in Wuhan, China as a result of outbreak of Coronavirus in that city. I commend Hon Abike Dabiri Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora for her efforts which led to the release of the fund for this purpose. Initially, the House of Representatives tried to dismiss the call when it was brought to the attention of the members of the Green Chamber by Hon john Kalu on the believe that China has better facilities to take care of them. I had expected members of the House of Representatives like their counterparts in other clan to have swing into action and ensure that these Nigerians who are mostly students were evacuated from the city of Wuhan. They should have considered the horrible experience and hardship these Nigerians are going through due to the restriction of movement order by the Chinese Central Government.
When you say hardship, what do you mean?
The issue here is that the students said, they don’t want money, but that government should evacuate them to prevent them from contracting the disease and also safe them from the hardship the found themselves. For instance, the transport system in Wuhan is not working. These Nigerians are kept in a building for weeks. So, I suggested that they should be taken to the other parts of Chinese Provinces, but because the transport system is not working that becomes impossible. As you know Wuhan is where the virus is more pronounced and with over 65 Nigerians excluding children residing there and also the largest number of foreign students lives there. The list I got from the Nigeria students shows that there are over 50 Nigeria students there while the rest are both businessmen and women with about 8 children. Therefore, there is no option, but to evacuate them. The rate at which people are being infected with the virus is very alarming hence, going by the information reaching us; we don’t need to be told that our people are trapped in Wuhan. I believe this was the reason government approved the fund so that they could be evacuated because as I speak with you the whole place in Wuhan is in confusion. People are afraid of going out not even to buy food for fear of being infected as everything is at standstill.
What is the assurance that if they are brought back they won’t be infection since the virus has entered Nigeria hence China is more equipped to prevent the virus from spreading?
First, let me commend the Federal Government and Lagos Government for their prompt action immediately the Italian tested positive to the virus. Yes, I agree with you that China is more equipped than Nigeria to prevent spread of the virus, yet the Nigerian government has put mechanism in place at the nation’s ports and borders to check and prevent the disease from entering into the country. Unfortunately, we now have virus with us. I’m sure with the efforts of both Lagos State Government and the Federal Government; the virus will be curtailed soon. Remember there is a prescribed international best practice by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to curb the spread. Therefore, I expect Nigeria to follow suit. So many countries have evacuated their citizens from parts of China, countries such as Singapore. How they did it is what we should be talking about and not giving unnecessary excuses like, we do not have the facilities. Since Nigeria was able to contain and prevent the spread of Ebola virus and got international commendations for combating the virus, why can’t we do same now?
Economic experts have warned that there may be shortage of food, drug and others, what advice do you have for the country?
No doubt, the economic implication is numerous and the cost of items is increasing daily as the virus spreads. Some of my staffs who are in China for holiday are even trapped there and I don’t know when the Chinese government will lift ban on movement given the worsening situation. As it stands now, China has lost closed to $50billion because of the virus. For instance, the monies transferred to Chinese businessmen from Nigeria cannot be accessed because banks are temporary shutdown. So, the economic implication goes beyond China. Like economic experts rightly observed, very soon the nation and other nations will begin to feel the impact hence, 80 per cent of our nation’s imports are from China. Some of the items in the Nigerian market are depleting as supplies and products are no longer shipped out of China. Also, manufacturers are no longer producing due to restriction of movement which resulted to shutdown of business activities in China. However, this is a wakeup call for Nigeria to stabilize her electricity sector.