Remarks by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19 at the National Briefing of Thursday 14th May, 2020

Mr. Boss Mustapha - SGF and Chairman, PTF on COVID-19

I welcome you to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Thursday, 14th May, 2020.

2. From today 14th May 2020, we begin the countdown to the end of the first phase of eased lockdown approved by the President, so that our economy could gradually reopen. At the same time, we continue our assessment of the level of compliance with the guidelines and the impact on slowing down the spread of COVID 19. In due course, we shall make further recommendations before the second phase commences.

3. I must, however, state that our initial evaluation point firmly in the direction of a high level of non-compliance which, as we have often warned, portend grave self-inflicted danger. This fact has made it imperative for me to re-echo our call for taking personal responsibility. You must abide with the guidelines (wash your hands as frequently as necessary; use hand sanitizers; maintain social distancing, use a face mask or covering in public places). In addition, you must comply with the ban on inter-state travels, avoid crowded places, observe the curfew and do all you can to STAY HOME and STAY SAFE.

4. You will recall that when the new measures were rolled out and published, we ensured that certain economic activities pertaining to food production and distribution were exempted. This, for the avoidance of doubts includes farming activities. We recognize the fact that we are in the planting season and the nation cannot afford to prevent our hardworking farmers from going to their farms. We therefore use this medium to reemphasize that farmers fall within the list of exemptions and urge State Governors, Local Government Authorities and security agencies to please allow them to carry out their activities. Our food security is critical to our national security.

Mr. Boss Mustapha - SGF and Chairman, PTF on COVID-19
Mr. Boss Mustapha – SGF and Chairman, PTF on COVID-19 and a cross section of members of the PTF on COVID-19

5. In the past two days, the PTF has briefed the topmost decision-making bodies of the country on progress, challenges and planned course of action. The objective was to seek further guidance and fresh ideas to improve the fight against COVID-19. The briefing was robust and very helpful in bringing renewed cohesion into the efforts of government.

6. The statistics on COVID 19 have continued to come out daily and the indications are that our testing strategy is yielding results because we can now give care to those that need it. The PTF wishes to congratulate all our frontline health workers that have
collectively nursed back to health, a total of 1,071 Nigerians already discharged from the various isolation treatment centres. These health workers have put in all, even beyond the call of duty, to save lives. We also congratulate all those that have been discharged and urge them to come out and tell their stories. We need to tell Nigerians that COVID-19 is real, that it is deadly and that prevention is better than cure. There is no better convincing and compelling evidence of the reality of the dangers than your experience.

7. The PTF reported the progress made with the evacuation of some Nigerians from the UAE, UK & USA. We also informed you about the mandatory quarantine protocol. Nigerians have in recent days been served with different audio-visual clips by some of these returnees. The PTF is saddened by the conduct of some of the returnees who fail to adhere to the conditions attached to their quarantine. I strongly urge them to obey the rules in the facilities and also urge their friends and relations to recognize the contagious nature of the disease by desisting from visiting them. Complying is in the interest of the visiting relation and in the overall public interest.

8. The PTF is pleased to inform you that it has facilitated the visit of the national leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association, JOHESU, National Association of Nurses & Midwives, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Association of Health Professionals and the National Association of Resident Doctors to Kano and Lagos. Unfortunately, due to traffic gridlock, the delegation could not carry out its mission in Lagos and would repeat it in the coming week. This collaboration underscores the importance the PTF attaches to inclusiveness in the battle against COVID-19. It also reassures our medical personnel that they remain a top priority for government in this effort.

9. The PTF welcomes the resolution of the Nigeria Governors Forum to take steps to ramp up testing and provide the prescribed minimum number of bed spaces in their isolation/treatment centres. We in turn assure the States that the NCDC will continue to provide technical support and standardization guidelines. It will also continue to firmly pursue its surveillance activities nationwide. We urge the States to recognize the essence of a strong partnership and always allow overarching public interest to prevail.

10. Finally, let me remind all Nigerians that in this battle, vigilance is required, self-preservation is important, collective action is necessary and compliance with guidelines is imperative. All these will help us prevent infection. .

11. I now cede the podium to the Hon. Minister of Health, the DG NCDC and the National Coordinator to update the nation.

12. I thank you for listening.