From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following the difficulties encountered while trying to evacuate stranded Nigerians abroad during the lockdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has been advised to make evacuation a significant policy.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which made the recommendations in Abuja on Tuesday, also called for the urgent establishment of a dedicated fund to address all future pandemics and outbreaks.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and PTF Chairman Boss Mustapha made the remarks while highlighting the challenges encountered and lessons learnt in the nine months of the task force mapping out a national COVID response.
Mustapha said that during the period of the response, which lasted six months and has been extended by another three months, ten challenges and lessons have been encountered and learnt.
‘The immense benefits derivable from multi-sectoral collaboration to address issues; Effective communication with Nigerians; Under emergency conditions, well-rounded considerations should be given to all sectors; Our health sector will require major reforms and must be proactive and Economic sustainable, recovery and preservation of lives and livelihoods remain critical at all times.
‘Others are Structured data collection, analysis and retrieval remain critical for effective governance; The phenomenon of evacuation of citizens from all over the world should become a significant policy issue for government; Across board, several public sector roles, practices, systems and some statutes require review/revision to effectively respond to extreme emergency situations; There’s need to urgently establish a dedicated fund to address all pandemics and outbreaks and The significance of building on synergy established with the private sector, the National Assembly and the subnational entities. These lessons are by no means exhaustive.’
Mustapha explained that in nine months, the pandemic response task force was also able to deliver palliatives to Nigerians across the various states.
He said for transparency, two web portals sponsored by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the UNDP were opened for the tracking of resources mobilized from all sources. Similarly, a national register of resources mobilized has been created and remains under constant updating.
Mustapha further explained that the End of the Year Report represents the state of the National Response as at the end of nine months of hard work (15th December 2020).
‘It remains work in progress because COVID-19 has not abated. Countries of the world including Nigeria, have been experiencing a second wave of infections which has proven to be more virulent,’ he stated.
He said the report also ‘captured for posterity the strategy adopted, the resources mobilized and committed, achievements recorded, lessons learnt and represents a useful roadmap for a national response, should emergencies occur in future.’