PGF boss backs Buhari over restriction in Lagos, Abuja, faults PDP, others

March 30, 2020

A chieftain of the All progressive congress (APC) and the
Director General of the party’s governors forum, Dr Salihu Lukman has thrown
his weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to declare a state of
emergency in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the federal capital territory
(FCT) as part of measures to contain the spread of the Covid 19 infectious

Lukman in a statement Monday in Abuja, faulted the
opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a senior advocate of Nigeria
(SAN) Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, who declared that the measures announced by the
President was illegal and unconstitutional.

The PGF chief argued that the decision by the President was
borne out of the urgent need to ensure the wellbeing of the citizenry against
the threat posed by COVID 19 in line with international best practices.

According to him: “Clearly, these responses completely
ignore the gravity of the challenges and imagine that the problems can be
reduced to politics and legal arguments. They all miss the point, very
conveniently, that the world, including Nigeria, is fighting a war that is a
threat to human life in a manner that the world has never experienced before.

“It is an unconventional challenge such that the enemy,
Covid-19, doesn’t respect politics, legality or recurse to any form of
interest. It was in fact in recognition of this that the President declared
that we are all as individuals the ‘greatest weapon to fight’ the war.

 “After all the
hue and cry, prior to the President’s broadcast, lamenting the slow responses
from government in taking measures to protect citizens against the spread of
the virus in the country, one would have expect some attempt to direct
attention in the country to strengthen the capacity of the government to
succeed in containing the spread of the virus.

” Or could PDP be arguing that there are other more
effective measures to contain the spread of the virus, which the President has
failed to take? Or could Mr. Adegboruwa be implying that there are legal
provisions that could be invoked that would ensure containment of the spread of
the virus while at the same time respecting the rights of citizens to move

“Why should we, as Nigerians, be so unfair to ourselves
and our leaders to the extent that it would appear we have lost sight of the
fact that to be rational and logical, is first and foremost to ensure the
protection of life. Once human life is at risk, we must take every step
required to safeguard human life.

” Coincidentally, this was the point amplified by Lee
Hsien Loong, the Sigaporean Prime Minister, on the same day of President
Buhari’s broadcast, while featuring on CNN Global Public Square hosted by
Fareed Zakaria.

 “With Singapore
today recognised as one of the successful countries to have controlled
Covid-19, Mr. Loong stressed the point: “The key thing is that people must
understand what we are facing and must support what we are doing and cooperate
with us and have confidence in the government and we put lots of efforts in
explaining to them what is happening, speaking to them and I have done it a few
times directly on television.

“So people know that we are level and we tell it
straight, we are transparent. If there is bad news, we tell you, if there are
things which needs to be done, we also tell you. I think that we have to
maintain that trust because if people don’t trust you, even if they have the
right measures, it’s going to be hard to get it implemented.”

“The position of Mr. Loong underlines our problem in
Nigeria, which is that we don’t trust our government and our leaders. With
almost daily Ministerial briefing by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire
and his team, the Sunday, March 29 speech by the President should have given
Nigerians the needed confidence to strengthen their belief about the commitment
of government to fight and contain Covid-19. Instead, what we have is distrust
and commitment to undermine initiatives of government.

“This would appear to be setting us up for failure in a
way that will cost the lives of many citizens, which may include some of us
that may unfortunately become infected by Covid-19.

“We deceive ourselves to imagine that some of us are
free from the virus, on account of which we could be tempted to politicise the
problem or indulge in legal arguments. Besides, one will be tempted to ask what
legal process did we invoke either as pro-democracy activists or as unionists
when we declared sit-at-home under Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Nigeria
Labour Congress (NLC) in 1993, 2000 and in all the cases of our protest
campaigns against the military and increases in petroleum prices?

“If the law gives us the right to protest, did we
really follow the processes provided under the law to prosecute all our
sit-at-home campaigns? Mr. Adegboruwa, being an active participant and leader
in some of those campaigns may want to humbly reflect on some of those
realities and candidly reassess his position about the so-called legal
requirement for restriction of movement in Abuja, Lagos and Abeokuta.”

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