Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 has assured Nigerians that the extension of the eased lockdown by two weeks was not punitive but a drive to strengthening the fight against spread of the disease in the country.
Addressing journalists in Abuja Tuesday, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, said Nigeria must balance between safety and economic considerations before reopening the economy fully.
“This well considered decision was taken out of an abundance of caution, current experiences from different countries and expert advice. I must add also that we were persuaded by the history of global pandemics because it is replete with evidence of exponential rise in pandemic upon early lifting of restrictions, for which the 1918–1920 influenza remains the most recent example in human history.
“Nigeria, judging from these historical perspectives, must in our present approach, delicately balance between safety and economic considerations before we reopen the economy fully,” he said.
He said extension of the lockdown was not as government shares the pains and concerns the citizens.
“Our future remains in our hands and compliance is one of the keys to opening that future. As we go into the first week of the extension of Phase One under the eased lockdown regime, we appeal once more to everyone, to diligently comply with measures put in place.
“Of particular importance is the need to obey the curfew, obey the ban on interstate travels, observe physical distancing and avoid large gatherings, observe personal and respiratory hygiene and align with the policy on use of masks/covering,” he said.
Hr said the extension should be utilised by businesses, offices, professional bodies, places of worship and educational institutions to plan and adopt new strategies on how to exist under a COVID-19 era in line with the stipulated guidelines.
He said behavioral change is a must for every citizen because COVID 19 has changed the world completely.
“The PTF COVID-19 is committed and determined to continue to provide the required leadership for this national response. In the coming days, intense consultations will be deepened with different segments of the society including the state governments, security agencies, religious and community leaders to ensure a coordinated implementation of the measures.
“As I mentioned yesterday, specific directives have been issued to security agencies to strictly enforce the measures. I therefore admonish Nigerians to please observe the restrictions in full.
“I however wish to assure our essential workers such as the frontline medical personnel, the media, the environmental health workers, farmers and agro-related service providers, oil and gas services, aviation, the power sector and a host of others that they will be adequately protected. Your obligation is to always carry a valid means of identification,” he said.
He said as part of government engagement strategies, the PTF met with the Joint Health Committees of the National Assembly to seek further collaboration and support for the battle.
He said the interactive session was very useful and the PTF COVID-19 received re-assurance of the support from the legislative arm of government.
He said in line with with its community engagement strategies, government would leverage on the existing community structures and assets at the ward level to push through a massive public awareness campaign aimed at ensuring voluntary community engagement and ownership of the fight against COVID-19.
“Now is the time to avoid any distraction from whatever quarters and all hands must be and remain on deck. On our part, we assure Nigerians of our commitment to accountability, diligence and probity.
“For those who are struggling with the disease, help is available. Do not go underground. It’s important to talk about it and to seek help. Every effort spares humanity the agony of the spread of the virus,” he said.
The SGF urged Nigerians to remain their brothers’ keeper, saying their response so far has been tremendous and urged them to do more.