Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Former Minister of Aviation Osita Chidoka has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately dissolve the COVID-19 taskforce headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
The former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) also urged the president to direct the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to take the lead and coordinate the governors’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak across the country.
Chidoka made the call in a message posted on his Facebook page, saying that Vice President Osinbajo should be able to give Nigerians a daily status briefing on the virus and the welfare of poor and vulnerable Nigerians while the COVID-19 shutdown lasts.
“Mr President, please dissolve the current COVID-19 taskforce, direct the Vice President, Prof Osinbajo, to take the lead and coordinate Governor’s response,” Mr Chidoka said in the post.
“The Vice President should give us daily status briefing and clarify how our poor and vulnerable will eat and access medicare while shut down last,” Chidoka wrote on his Facebook page.
Saying that the country cannot afford a shut down without clear thinking, Chidoka explained that the country can also not afford a lockdown without plans to mitigate the impact on the Nigerian cash economy where a majority are on daily pay.
“We cannot afford a shut down without clear thinking and plans to mitigate impact on our cash economy where majority are on daily pay. We are not China, US or Italy.
“We need a Nigerian solution that harnesses our strength, overcomes our structural weaknesses while curbing the spread of the virus. We can do better, Mr. President,” Chidoka also said.
He stressed that Osinbajo should lead the charge on the COVID-19 federal response, recommending that the vice president convene virtually state governors and coordinate the response.
“We need coherent responses. The uncoordinated ban on movements without thinking about food and essential services flow is stupid.
“This secretive and feudal approach to governance should stop. Prof. Oosinbajo is the elected Vice President. In the absence of the African big man, should be accountable to Nigerians in time of crisis. We have a crisis with serious implications for majority of our impoverished citizens.
“The Secretary to Government, despite his importance, should deputise the Vice President as we confront this emergency. How can states close federal roads without a plan for mitigating impact on food and medicine supplies? Shutting down the country comes with cost. Who bears the cost?” Chidoka queried.
Chidoka had earlier urged politicians in the country to take the lead in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
“I propose that State Governments should discontinue all rates and tax collections from all residents. The usual non-pension deductions from the payrolls of civil servants should be used, in this emergency situation, to fund cash transfers to all those in need who have duly registered through their town unions, traditional rulers or religious institutions. There are innovative ways of using mobile phone numbers to uniquely identify such deserving beneficiaries.
“Every state governor should use a substantial part of their security vote to offer palliatives to the most vulnerable to ensure that our society does not degenerate to anarchy. The time to act is now,” Chidoka had stated earlier.