By Abbas Jimoh
The Federal Government has warned that the nation risks resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the large gatherings of the #EndSARS protests and the violence that followed.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the taskforce.
He said that the PTF could not hold the briefing for last week Thursday due to the security and other pressing national issues.
He also noted that most of the Ministers were not present because they are out of station for community and stakeholder engagements.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the ministers and top government officials to hold meetings and other engagements to douse the tension in the country.
“Over the past two weeks, Nigerians have focused attention on two important issues namely, the protests by youths which has unfortunately metamorphosed into an unprecedented safety and security situation; and COVID-19 developments in-country and around the world.
“Both activities are critical to our nation because the security situation impacts negatively on our economy, social life, international reputation and ability to effectively coordinate the National Response; and the large gatherings witnessed during the protests and during the break-ins at various ware houses, homes and looting of stores puts us at a great risk of resurgence of the virus,” Mustapha said.
He said that the global pandemic situation has continued to escalate, with the cumulative number of infections crossing the 43 million mark.
The SGF said that in the last 20 hours, 4,498 deaths were reported from 96 countries and territories worldwide, with Europe (France, Italy, and UK) accounting for accounting for 30 percent (1,358 deaths).
Mustapha noted that African has recorded a cumulative total case count of 1,727,887 including 41,323 deaths.
“Nigeria maintains the 5th position in highest cumulative cases after South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia,” he said.
He also recalled that when the PTF re-opened the airspace, Nigerians were informed that discussions were on-going with EU Ambassadors on the resumption of flights by European airliners.
He, however, said that there have been positive developments which details shall be released later.
Speaks on looting of palliative
The PTF Chairman said that the #EndSARS protests have unfortunately been hijacked by other tendencies that have inflicted great economic costs through arson, looting of warehouses, invasion of private homes, shopping malls, jail breaks and generally engaging in wanton destruction under the disguise of the protests.
“Of particular concern to the PTF, is the issue of palliatives found and looted from various warehouses around the country. It is important to make the following clarifications.
“The Federal Government Palliatives consisted largely of the 70MT of grains released from the Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR) as well as rice secured from the Nigerian Customs Service.
The share for each State were handed over to the State Governments for onward distribution to the citizens.
“The private sector coalition (CACOVID) that has been quite supportive of the Federal Government, worked with the States through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to determine the quantum of their intervention, which was intended to be effective and equitable.
“A number of indices were worked out for this purpose. The National Coordinator shall also provide further distinction and the modus operandi for the distribution of the palliatives donated to the states by the coalition,” Mustapha said
He urged all Nigerians to remain law abiding and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to restore normalcy to the country.
Mustapha said, “Humanity has been traumatized by COVID-19. Our nation is not experiencing a second wave but has been impacted negatively by the looting and arson.”