Nigeria: COVID-19 - Too Early to Question Buhari's 'Silence' - Senate

Hand washing is crucial in the fight against COVID-19.

The Senate has said it is too early to question President Muhammadu Buhari's silence on the cases of Coronavirus in the country following a call by the lawmakers on Wednesday.

The Senate's spokesperson, Godiya Akwashiki, said this during a press briefing on Thursday.

His comment comes barely 24 hours after the Senate called on the president to address the nation, as other world leaders have, on the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

Nigerians have chided the president for failing to address the nation like his counterparts across the globe.

Presidents of countries like Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe have addressed their nations. But Mr Buhari has kept mum since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The presidency has, however, defended the president's seeming aloofness.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said it is not yet the appropriate time for the president to address the nation.

Mr Akwashiki was asked if there was any time frame for the president to act on the Senate's resolution of Wednesday to address the nation.

In his response, the lawmaker explained that the Senate's resolutions go through a process and "one cannot expect the president to act immediately".

"You don't just give an information and in 24 hour you expect the president to act. If we make resolution, we have to communicate the president. It is the prerogative of the clerk to communicate the adviser of National Assembly matters of office of the president.

"I want to believe the President is studying that resolution. Today is Thursday, it is too early for us to question why the President has not addressed the nation.

"I want to believe in the next one week if he doesn't address the nation, the leadership of the Senate will engage the Executive arm of Government because it is a serious issue," he said.

He pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with the president.

Mr Buhari has also been criticised for not showing empathy with victims of an explosion that rocked Lagos recently.

Returning senators to undergo tests

Mr Akwashiki also said there is a directive for every senator that travelled abroad to undergo tests for the virus.

This, he said, is one of the decisions taken by the lawmakers during the closed door session on Thursday.

"Senate President urged the 109 senators... those that just returned from foreign trips, to go and do the test from tomorrow because as leaders we should show example to others.

"It is better to be late than never. We all matured people, we don't need somebody to tell you what to do."

When asked if the National Assembly will be shut down any moment, he said the leadership is yet to make such decision.

Already, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, announced that suspension of all public heatings and excursions to the legislative complex indefinitely.

He also said the gallery will remain closed to visitors until further notice.

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