Coronavirus: Pressure on Buhari to dissolve presidential task force, appoint Osinbajo to coordinate governors

April 7, 2020
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There are emerging pressures on President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the Presidential Task Force leading the fight to contain the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and appoint the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to coordinate governors of the 36 states of the federation for effectiveness. The current Presidential Task Force on coronavirus is widely considered unnecessarily bureaucratic, while members lack technical knowledge of the crisis at hand except the Director General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Nigerians are, therefore, demanding President Buhari to dissolve the task force while directing Vice President Osinbajo to coordinate the actions of the Governors of the 36 state of the Federation in containing the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.

A former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, succinctly made the case clear, telling President Buhari that Nigeria can do better that is being done currently in handling the coronavirus crisis.

Chidoka in a statement declared: “Please dissolve the current COVID-19 Task Force, direct the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to take the lead and coordinate Governors responses. The Vice President should give us daily status briefing and clarify how our poor and vulnerable will eat and access Medicare while shut down lasts.

“We cannot afford a shut down without clear thinking and plans to mitigate impact on our cash economy where majority are on daily pay. We are not China, US or Italy.

“We need a Nigerian solution that harnesses our strength, resources, our structural weaknesses while curbing spread of the virus. We can do better Mr. President.”

Chidoka properly redirected President Buhari on the imperatives of depoliticizing the interventionist action of the federal government in combating coronavirus in the country. The crisis is a complex issue that requires the involvement of technical knowledge than political patronage or partisan reward.

Greater members of the Presidential Task Force on coronavirus interventions has no business being there; from the SGF, Boss Mustapha, to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister of Information and Culture, Minister of Internal Affairs. The Minister of Health has also not demonstrated technical knowledge in handling the coronavirus crisis, always relying on the NCDC DG for technical report. The Task Force is becoming a liability both to Nigerian citizens and the Nigerian government in several ways. Members are rather increasing the coronavirus risks than proffering solutions.

Meanwhile, Lagos State government has been making progress and is on the track to winning the war against coronavirus in the state. The graph is no longer sliding higher and may begin downward slope soon. However, while new cases are yet to be eliminated, the rate of infection has slowed down, while cases of recoveries are increasing.

The positive cases in Rivers State have also been reversed after weeks of isolation and treatment of patients.

While such records exist in states, the federal government intervention in circumstances like these, will be to provide aids and assistance to states, which could be coordinated by the Vice President and assisted by the NCDC DG.

Nigeria is still at the risk coronavirus epidemic since the government has low testing capacity. Invariably, the government may be working with artificial figures as long as majority citizens are untested.

There is no test machines in several states. Indeed, rather than demanding test machines, the current Task Force is seeking importation of ventilators from China, in addition to 18-man medical team. The Task Force is clearly undermining the achievements made in Lagos and a few other states in combating the spread or consequences of coronavirus. Otherwise, the Task Force would have developed the Nigerian solutions and increase the capacity.

Apparently, President Buhari is expected to remedy the situation to avert outburst of coronavirus epidemic which Nigeria would not have the medical facilities to handle.

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