The 2014 Nigeria Movement, a group of prominent Nigerians fighting for a better and egalitarian society, is not happy with the way the Federal Government has so far handled the curtailing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Its mational policy adviser, David Esosa Ize-Iyamu, while lamenting the ravaging disease, also regretted that Nigeria has not been able to largely locate in an appreciable way the commitment of leadership and government to the collective interest of the people.
He told Daily Sun in Lagos: “It was really a catastrophic failure that the government could not prevent the virus from entering Nigeria months after the epidemic was declared in China and before it was declared a global pandemic.
“For a long time, the borders of the country were left open and we were receiving travellers from all around the world, including the epicenters of the disease. Since we know our medical and health management capacity, we should have taken all necessary precautions to prevent the importation of the infection into our borders.
“The preparation and response time for this medical emergency that has been announced since December of last year and declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, on March 11 this year, was not adequate, despite past experiences.
“What has become of the Presidential Villa Clinic to which billions of naira has been allocated in yearly budgets and what has also become of the National Hospital, Abuja?
“This is not the medical situation we desire in our country, not anymore. If this is happening to the powerful in government, what is the fate of the mass of our people?
“It is unfortunate that even the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, who was reportedly flown to Lagos for treatment, eventually died.’’
The group thanked all the frontline responders and workers “who are risking their lives and the welfare of their families to effectively combat the virus into total submission like they did during past experiences, including the battle against the dreadful Ebola virus.
“We are not convinced that the relief palliatives are getting to the masses of our people. This lack of reliable database is obviously a self-inflicted challenge perpetrated by those who benefit from our false unique demographic pattern.
“The curfew was not only counterproductive, but it is suggestive of an ignoble era that we thought has gone past. This aggression is even more objectionable at this time of national emergency, when we should all come together and be keepers of one another.
“For the sake of the Nigerian masses, the Federal Government, which is in control of the resources of the country at this point should rise up, create synergy and strengthen the coordination of these response actions to deal with this pandemic.
“We are not convinced that the palliatives being repeatedly advertised by the Federal Government are getting to the masses that genuinely and accurately require this interim support and lifeline.
“In situations like this, it is not enough to tell the people what the government is doing; the people must feel it with proofs that cannot be controverted. A situation where, at this time of national emergency, state governments, which are closer to the people, are struggling either with financial, personnel and material resources in the fight against COVID 19 is not appropriate.
“The shutdown of the country in batches will ultimately not be in the interest of the generality of the people because those cleared states can be re-infected if other states are not also cleared at the same time. This would lead to prolonged closure of some states thereby hurting the masses of our people who live subsistent lives of daily wages and incomes.
“National shutdown should have been the better way to go to pre-empt the continuing and unabated spread of coronavirus. It was good that the government regarded financial institutions as part of essential services, but the effect of this policy is yet to be fully seen.
“To take care of the interest of both the buyers and sellers of farm produce at this critical time, government should quickly set up an emergency Produce Management Board with operations across all the states of the country
“This will mitigate the destruction of perishable produce and loss to farmers who are mostly poor and indigent members of the society. The welfare of the masses must be the primary responsibility of any government.’’
The group lamented the fire that ravaged the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation: ‘’As primary stakeholders, it is the right of the Nigerian people to know what exactly transpired at the office. We thank God that no life was lost in the inferno.
“Federal and state governments should make visible efforts to upgrade public hospitals and medical centres as well as build new ones, where necessary. What has happened now should not be allowed to recur.
“Africa is not a poor continent and, by extension, Nigeria is greatly endowed. The main problem is that the massive wealth of the country has not been effectively managed by most of the leaders since independence. We must turn this sad story around for the sake of our people and the future generations.
‘’On our honour and with God on our side, we pledge to the Nigerian people that the worst will presently be over as we remain resolutely committed to the upliftment and well-being of the Nigerian people.’
“Despite noticeable shortcomings of government both at the centre and state level on the COVID-19, we still commend the efforts of the federal and state governments in tackling the outbreak.”
Ize-Iyamu said the movement was founded in the later part of last year ‘’because of the prolonged and growing crises that have become an existential threat to the country.’’