Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo
Federal Government said it spurned the request of five governors to fly into Abuja because of the Federal Government’s decision to shut all the airports over the Coronavirus pandemic.
Minister of of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while responding to questions at Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19, said every single flight approved will be an essential flight and 98 percent of them would be connected to COVID-19 while one percent may be either repatriation or request from the diplomatic community
“There is no exception to governors, I have denied several of such flights including two governors from South-South, two from South-East. Meanwhile, three of them are members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and one is from North Central.
“Just to say that once you see a flight approved, it is diligently done, it must be essential, it must be COVID-19 related or some other flights like essential cargo that will bring in medicines or equipments or something related to our own wellbeing like food and so on and so forth. So please trust and bear with us it while this last, it will be short.”
On Tuesday, April 20, Sirika announced the Federal Government’s decision to extend the closure of all the airports in the country by two weeks over the Coronavirus pandemic.
He disclosed this on his official twitter account, saying that the airports would no longer open for commercial operations on April 23 as earlier scheduled due to the extended lockdown in the three cities.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, has said as part of the support to the states, the PTF has approved the distribution plans for medical equipment and consumables available in stock to the states.
He said the physical distribution shall commence immediately and that this will be in addition to the Jack Ma equipment and materials already shared to the sstates.
Mustapha added that the lockdown and the subsequent extension was to slow down the spread of the virus by minimising contact and congregation of people and to enable government put in place necessary infrastructure, train personnel, take delivery and distribute essential equipment and materials in readiness for any eventuality.
The SGF added that the DG of the NCDC and the WHO Representative on the PTF have been touring states to assess and standardise their infrastructure and their readiness.
He said they have so far visited Imo, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Katsina and currently in Kano, while three more states will be covered by today.
He said particular attention is to be focused on some states with heavy burden, particularly, Kano; and priority is being placed on Intensive State Level Support.
He noted that this is the time for all hands to be on deck so that the PTF can improve on its delivery.
“Unity of purpose is critical. Everybody has a role to play for self, for family, for community, for the nation and for humanity,” Mustapha said.
The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, also reiterated the call for face masks.
“I will re-echo what the Honourable Minister of State, Health, had said with regards to face masks, we’ll continue to urge you to wear face masks as an optional addition to routine measures of physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and respiratory hygiene. In line with the NCDC face masks policy, we advise Nigerians make DIY (do it yourself) face masks. Not only are they cheap, they are also more colourful.”