By Suleiman Umaru
Not many were surprised that Boss Mustapha , Chairman, Presidential Task Force , PTF , on COVID 19, and Secretary to the government of the Federation had won President Muhammadu Buhari heart.
This is because of his dedication and commitment to the national assignment given to him which had helped in saving the nation from being thrown into a major health crisis over the lat two months. The Katsina born Nigerian President , according to informed sources so much believe on Mustapha’s Judgment on the Wuhan town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus paandemic to take a decisison.
Insider sources told The Value News that that the President takes every briefings and recommendations of the Mustapha on the COVID 19, situation in the country serious and ready to ensure the enforcement of its recommendations to the later.
take for instance the last Sunday, briefing of President by the COVID PTF Chairman which was very revealing, Armed with the facts and figures on the CoronaviruS pandemic situation in the country, the PTF, had made wide recommendations to the government
.Based on the briefing rumour had broken out that the President would address the nation on Monday, May 18,2020 . Femi Adesina, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity had been linked to be the source of the information but he came out quickly to dismiss it .’’No Presidential broadcast on COVID 19 was planned’’ on Monday, May 18, 2020.
The President may have found that there was no need for him to make a nation-wide- broadcast on the COVID 19 situation in the country as Mustapha could easily do it. He was said to have been given the go ahead to him showing the Confidence he has on him ‘’to bring the nation up to speed up on the next steps’’. It was a good opportunity for him to put the approved ecommendations into action .
Recall that between Monday , May 4, 2020, until, Sunday, May 18, 2020, with implementation of the phasing of the lock down in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center, Ogun, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Mustapha, has never hidden his feelings that Nigerians are not yet ready for the reopening of the economy.
He may have been encouraged to take the stand because of the crowd that were found in the designated various branches of the Money Deposit Banks , MDBs, Lagos and the FCT, particular, to conduct their transactions without keeping to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, a United Nations, UN, health agency Social distancing rules.
Indeed, his insistence on the extension of the phased lock down in the two major Cities of the country and Ogun, because of its proximity to Lagos ,gave an insight to the recent Value News online Publication on a planned extension of the phased easing of the lock-down in Lagos, FCT and Ogun , by another two weeks. The story may have prepared the mind of Nigerians, that Mustapha, who is described in political cycles, as the head of the Cabal in the Presidency and who has won the ears of the President may have his way.
His remarks while addressing members of the PTF on COVID 19, on Monday, May 19, 2020, to prepare their mind about the extension of the phased easing of the relaxation of the lockdown in Lagos, Abija and Ogun, for another two weeks , before tougher measures could be taken speaks volume.
According to him’’ the reality on ground was that the country is not yet ready for full re-opening of the economy as tough decisions may have to be taken for the good of the grater majority’’. He may have reeled out figures to support his claim. Take for instance, the 176 confirmed new cases that were discovered by the NCDC, across the country, with Lagos alone producing 95 patients on Sunday, May 18, 2020, the 383 on Monday, may 19, 2020, with Lagos, which had been described as the epicenter of disease producing 177 patients.
He was said to have told the COVID 19 PTF , members, at the closed door meeting that any further relaxation of the lock-down across the country, particular, Lagos, FCT and Ogun, including Kano, in the north west geo-political region, will portend grave danger for the populace. This may have informed why he said ‘’the current phasing of the lock down in Lagos, FCT and Ogun, will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures which will be pursued to force people to stay at home within the period’’.
The bad news was that instead of limiting the extension of the phased implementation of the lockdown to the initial two cities: Lagos and FCT, including the south west Ogun state, it was extended to Kano.
Perhaps, to ensure that Nigerians stay at home under the extended phased easing of the lock down, he noted that the President had approved some measures that had been recommended by the Task Force: exemptions, advisories, and cope of identities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased lock down. This is in addition to the intensifying efforts to Communicate, identify and manage COVID 19 Cases and elevating the level of Community Ownership and Non Pharmaceutical Interventions.
Mustapha who could not hide his feelings said the extension of the phased implementation of the easing of the lock-down in the country was basically ‘’to enable other segments of the economy to prepare adequately for Compliance with the NCDC and WHO social distancing rules guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks’’.
The PTF COVID 19, Chairman, may have sent a message to Nigerians that ‘’subsequent decisions on the relaxation of the phased easing of the lockdown in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun and other parts of the country as well as the reopening of the economy will depend greatly on the Compliance to the social distancing rules’’ meant to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country’’
This is an indications that there is no ho hope of reopening the country’s economy sson. Ifie Sekibo, Managing Director , managing Heruatage , Heritage Bank, may have spoken his mind when he said that the NCDC and WHO social distancing rules will not work in Nigeria, meaning that Mustapha, and other members of the PTF on COVID 19, may have to look for better excuse over the delay in the reopening of the economy.
There is no gain saying the fact that Buhari is waiting on the advice of the Mustapaha led PTF , on COVID 19, to fully reopen the economy, which he is not ready to give for now, because of the rising cases of the disease in the country.
While other countries in the world , appear to be witnessing major decline in the spread of the disease in their major cities, particular, the United States, US and other developed economies, the situation is different in Nigeria. If the report given by the PTF on COVID 19, on Monday, May 19, is not bad enough, the NCDC, reported confirmed new cases across the country late Monday is touchy. The number of infected COVID 19 patients remained on the high side. The NCDC had confirmed that there were 216 cases, thus bringing the total number of patients since the outbreak of the disease in the country to over 6000 cases.
There are fears that with the way disease spreading in lips and bounds in the country, Nigeria may soon equal the records of South Africa and the North African countries of Egypt Morocco and Algeria without having the Laboratories and Isolation centers to accommodate the patients .
Aware of the country health Challenges, the President may have moved to provide these facilities to cater for the country future health challenges. The Central ank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, may gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said the apex bank has set aside N100 billion to give out as loan to Companies manufacturing pharmaceutical products, medical equipment and drugs. Ad those wishing to expand their operations and improve their Capacity.
Thiis is good news to the Pharmaceutical Companies which had been on the brink of Collapse over the last two years due to lack of operating Funds. The situation in the Pharmaceutical Companies in the country may have been worsened since the outbreak of the COVID 19 in the country last February, which makes the CBN N100 billion intervention Fund for the nation’s health sector timely.