It’s exactly one month today since the index case of the novel Coronavirus(COVID-19) came into the country, signalling what would be the beginning of a tortuous ‘month of breaking news.’ Never in the history of this country (arguably) have Nigerians been on the watch out for a news flash from a body as relegated as the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Sadly, that is the reality we now live in.
Schools, Public offices, Churches, Mosques, Markets, Airports, Borders and even Banks are all shutting up to prevent a massive spread of the scourge. There is also a widespread call for a lockdown of the country to nip the virus in the bud. And in the midst of this, if you were among those who have waited for President Muhammadu Buhari to speak hope or even doom to citizens about the crisis, you may not need to wait any longer. He probably has contracted his rival in the last elections and unofficial opposition leader, Atiku Abubakar to take charge at the national level while Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu act as the National Incidence Commander to enable him relax, or perhaps “treat his persistent coughs.”
For weeks, the five-time Presidential Candidate has been the go-to person in the country for the loudest yet sound opinion on the way forward. He called for timely closure of the airspace to international flights from countries with high-risk status regarding the Coronavirus. More interesting to note is the fact that his son Mohammed Atiku Abubakar was away in one of the ‘high-risk’ countries while he was crying to be heard. It’s no longer news that the son in question has tested positive as publicly declared by his father (another rarity in this clime) and is now at the Abuja Isolation Centre.
Like a famous sorcerer, the former Vice President has steadily used his ‘small yet massive’ weapon of a mobile phone and 16o characters to provide leadership in these dire times. The latest in the works is that he wants the “National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that will cater for all Nigerian citizens, especially those he described as having a subsistence existence.
Showing understanding that a large percentage of Nigerians do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation and even lockdown, he is proposing that the Federal and state governments provide palliatives, especially in form of distributing N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to 30 million households, among other measures to enable them cope with the stay at home orders, social distancing, shut down of non-essential markets and other places of mass gatherings.
To support the above, he is making an appeal to all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that the government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance and has urged them to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ₦1500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service (as the case may be).
Quite boldly too and to walk the talk, he has pledged N50 million as his contribution to jumpstart the initiative of a Relief Fund that will form part of the stimulus package. Coming from a private individual, nothing (except the efforts of the health authorities and the Lagos Government) is more commendable than this in the fight against Covik 1-9. Is this about 2023 or genuine love for the people of the country? Time will tell. But what do we say to Waziri Adamawa? Thank You, Your Excellency!
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