Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic has accused state governments of not enforcing protocols to flatten the curve of the virus in the country.
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who stated this yesterday, warned that the announcement by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that more than 11,100 patients have recovered from the virus within 24 hours after its last report did not mean it is now Uhuru.
This is even as he said the third phase of eased lockdown will be driven by the three thematic areas – movement, labour and industries- as well as communities activities.
Mustapha, spoke to State House Correspondents after he led members of the PTF to submit the report and recommendations of second extension of second phase of eased lockdown to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Others at the meeting were the Task force’s national coordinator, Sani Aliyu; the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu.
According to Mustapha, non-enforcement of COVID-19 protocols at sub-national level was listed as number one challenge in the PTF’s report submitted to President Buhari.
“It’s enforcement that has largely been lacking and my appeal is that the subnationals should ensure enforcement. As a matter of fact, when we listed some of our challenges, that was top on the list; lack of enforcement of even the regulations that have been put in place. As a result of signing the Quarantine Regulation, it’s a regulation, it’s a law, but you see, the issue of enforcement has been lacking and it’s not only in this area. Like we keep saying most times that COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of our systems, all systems, not only the Nigerian system, even the American system. Its inadequacies, despite its 300 years of democracy, have been exposed by COVID-19, if not how can a president be arguing with the mayor of a city as to who has authority over what happens? It means there’s a big gap in that system.
“I believe if we can just work on the enforcement aspect of it, which is the responsibility of the subnationals, we will go a long way.”
Asked if it was Uhuru with the discharged of over 11,000 COVID-19 patients in 24 hours, the SGF said: “No, if you noticed, as we celebrated those discharges, there’s also been a decrease in the testings. In the last couple of days we tested just barely 2,000 across the nation, but we have a testing capacity of much more thousands than 2,000.
“Another reason is that everybody is still in the Sallah mood. Even the essential workers. Remember when I talked of fatigue, this is part of it. We’ve been doing this thing for the last three to four months, it gets to a point when you want to lay back and say we are already overcoming this, but I know that in the next couple of days, the testing will be rampart because people would have come out of the Sallah celebrations and come back to work, the subnationals and local governments will begin to go into the communities to search because, this is the point at which you have to go into the local communities and begin to search. So much is happening as a result of the community transmission that has been cascaded into the local communities that if you wait for it to present itself, it will present itself in a very explosive manner and we can get into a panic mode. We don’t want to have that.”
On the president’s impression and what Nigerians should expect in the next phase, the PTF chair said the president was happy with the content of the report and with the work done the PTF.