Nigeria: Buhari to Decide On Lockdown Extension Weekend, Says SGF

A commercial tricycle operator operating along Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos Nigeria
7 April 2020

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has stated that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 will do an evaluation of its objective on the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria this weekend, and upon which, President Muhammadu Buhari will determine whether or not to extend the present lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun State.

Mustapha, who spoke during the taskforce's press briefing in Lagos Tuesday, said the team had outlined its objectives and goals, and that within the next few days, it would determine if it met its objective of halting the spread of COVID-19 in the country, adding that this will be relayed to the President who would advice on the next step.

He said: "President Buhari alone will make the decision as to whether the lockdown will stop on its expiration at the 14th day or whether to extend it. The President would have to review the recommendations of the team set up to monitor the various measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus and cushion its effects on the people.

The SGF explained that members of the taskforce were in Lagos to inspect the isolation centres in the state, as part of the responsibilities of the team.

He said, "We are looking at the objectives that were set when the lockdown or the quarantine declaration was signed by the President, and subsequently by several other states.

"Before the end of the week, we will do an evaluation and part of the trip here was to do an evaluation to see how the objectives that were set were being met and at the end of that exercise, we would have the responsibility of reporting to Mr President."

Mustapha said that the President had in his declaration explained how he arrived at the decision to impose the lockdown in the two states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to him, President Buhari took the decision on the advice of the Minister of Health; an action which he said eventually led to the signing of the Quarantine Declaration 2020.

Mustapha who is also the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19 said Nigeria was at war with an invisible enemy, noting that the enemy can only be defeated if Nigerians stay at home, observe social distancing and report themselves to the health authorities if they present symptoms of COVID-19.

"One person who is infected in one community can infect everyone in that community. This is why we must eliminate the virus from our country so we can all stay safe. COVID-19 is a dangerous sickness, we must abide by the instruction to stay at home and report all suspected cases."

He also used the opportunity to commend Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for leading the fight against the virus in Lagos. He said the palliative supplies meant for Lagos will reach the state in few days for onward disbursement to poor residents.

On his part, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the state had put several measures in place to combat the virus, adding that most of which were not known to the public.

He said: "For instance, we have established two quarantine centres in Badagry, one in Epe, and some other places. These facilities are where people who come into the state through land borders, maybe from neigbhouring countries, are placed for 14 days before allowed fully into the state to mix with the people."

Meanwhile, the PTF has inspected the 120 bed-space isolation centre in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in readiness for admission of COVID-19 patients.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the tour of the centre, the Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof Chris Bode, said the visit was a source of encouragement to the hospital management as the largest hospital in Lagos.

"We cannot afford to fold our arms, it is better for us to rise up to the challenges. With the help of Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, we have been able to put together newly furnished blocks of four wards each one contains 30 beds. We have enough personal protective equipment and a lot of what we need to start admission of COVID-19 positive patients in Lagos," he said.

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