Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic has dismayed at the non-compliance to COVID-19 protocol’s at the flag-off of the All Progressives Congress (APC) electoral campaign and the funeral rites for late Senator Buruji Kashamu, the lawmaker who represented Ogun East senatorial district in the eighth National Assembly, over the weekend.
The Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, expressed his displeasure at Monday’s briefing.
Scores of sympathisers had thronged to the burial of Kashamu at his Ishopen residence in Ijebu Igbo, a town in Ogun State, to join his family and relatives in mourning the former lawmaker who they described as a generous man and philanthropist.
The APC has flagged-off its campaign on Saturday ahead of the governorship election in Edo State on September 19.
The event took place at the University of Benin’s Sports Complex, Benin City, devoid of compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Sani, who was responding to a question on the developments, said: ‘We are quite dismayed with the level of non-compliance when it comes to some of these activities.
‘The issue is we know that COVID-19 does not act like proper pandemic, proper pandemic like Ebola you will have dead bodies on the streets, you had people bleeding to death, so that shock factor is there, you do not need to do anything further to convince people to protect themselves and to do the right thing.
‘So, right from the beginning we were faced with a pandemic that is an invisible enemy, a pandemic where majority of us will probably never come across someone with COVID or someone who may have died of the virus.
‘So, right from the beginning we are facing the task of convincing people to change their risk perception with regards to a pandemic that is not as visible as other pandemics have been.
‘We also have been very lucky in this country, we have not had the kinds of cases of deaths or mortalities that we have seen in other countries. But nevertheless, a lot of people have died, close to a thousand Nigerians that have died would still be with us today if not for COVID.
‘I think the problem is not with the message, probably the problem is with the messenger, with the way we communicate, who is really delivering that message. It is certainly more effective if the message is being delivered by traditional rulers, religious leaders, village heads to provide that information that would enable you protect yourself.
‘We will continue to engage Nigerians, enlighten them and encourage them to embrace those simple steps that are necessary to protect themselves.
‘When you wear a mask, it is an act of kindness, what you are saying is that you care about the people that you will meet and you don’t want them to be infected by COVID-19. The same thing goes for physical distancing, it’s much easier to be proactive, it’s much easier for civil authorities to make sure that those situation that pose the risks of mass gathering are avoided.
‘So, if it comes to enforcement, you cannot enforce behavioural change for a long period of time, the only way you can ensure compliance with behavioural change is by convincing people that it is the right thing to do and you are also protecting your loved ones when you do so.’