The menacing rampage of the COVID-19 Pandemic has continued to roar with its devastating effects on the health and economy of the country and citizens. From the index case in Lagos State reported on 28th February. According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the country now has four hundred and forty-two (442) confirmed cases at the time of this statement. However, one hundred and fifty-two (152) were discharged having recovered with thirteen (13) fatalities. At the global level, there are two million, one hundred and fifty-nine thousand, four hundred and fifty (2,159,450) confirmed cases, five hundred and forty-nine thousand, five hundred and ninety-two (549,592) recovered with one hundred and forty-five thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight (145, 568) fatalities. This puts Nigeria at the 97th position globally out of 204 countries reported by the World Health Organization., Once again, we say that this is a sobering moment globally especially for Nigeria as a country and her citizens.
Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has observed that the fight against the Corona Virus has reached a frenzied stage though attracting donations from individuals, corporate organizations and from the international community in cash, equipment, materials, and personnel. There are donations ranging from 11 billion Naira from NNPC, materials from Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma. A big boost came from top Nigerian Billionaires under the umbrella name of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19. Their effort has yielded more than 15 billion Naira in donations and recently, 50 million Euros were donated by the European Union. These donations are aside what the Federal government announced as its budget for the pandemic and its intention to set up a 500 Billion Naira fund to tackle the disease. As welcome as this may be, we call for transparent and judicious utilization of the funds.
The government at all levels should not politicize the COVID-19 Pandemic matters as this will not help in any way in the fight against this deadly virus. CTA has observed lately, that there is a gradual pollicisation of the pandemic across the states and we must guard against. The disease is not a respecter of person and all hands must be on deck to fight it. It will be dangerous to joggle figures as it seems in some states in order to receive more attention, money, and materials from the Relief Fund and palliatives. This is a dangerous trend and must be halted immediately if it is so.
In this critical period, transparency and accountability should be the watchword. The Relief Funds and materials must be properly accounted for, distributed judiciously and equitably in a transparent manner. This is not the time to play politics but time to be humane and serve humanity in all honesty. The Trader money and Cash Transfer program should not be confused with the COVID-19 palliative as currently in play. The COVID-19 Relief Fund should be separated and vulnerable citizens should benefit from it. This is not the time to curry political favors but to serve Nigerians and save us from the pandemic!
CTA commends the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control especially, the Director-General
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu for being on top of the issues as well as the Federal Task Force on COVID-19. We are also specially commending the health care providers who have made themselves available at this time by risking their lives to make the rest of the citizenry safe and the Lagos State government on the actions it has taken so far. We, therefore, recommend that other states adopt this model and be more proactive in responding to cases.
CTA is concerned about the highhandedness and abuse of rights of citizens by security agents that are enforcing the Lockdown order by the Federal and state government. It should worry every right-thinking Nigerian that the country has recorded more deaths of citizens from the security agents especially the Police and the Nigerian Army than the deaths from the Coronavirus. This is vile, unacceptable and should be condemned entirely. We call on the security agencies to respect the rights of the citizens while trying to enforce the lockdown working within the mandate of the operational order and ethics of their profession.
In like manner, we also call on the citizens to respect the security agents and adhere to the lockdown order. We appeal to citizens to stay at home even though we recognize the hardship many citizens are facing especially those who depend on the daily income for a living. We all need to cooperate to defeat this virus.
CTA will advise citizens to continue to;
- Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Maintain at least one & half meters (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in-crowd.
- Practice social distancing
- Minimize public meetings
- Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing
- Practice self-isolation
- Use the period of the lockdown to learn something new online and do more bonding with loved ones
Centre for Transparency Advocacy sympathizes with families who have lost loved ones, those who have contracted the disease and wish them quick recovery.
CTA calls on government at all levels and citizens to be vigilant and collectively, we shall fight this scourge.
Ms. Faith Nwadishi
Executive Director, CTA
For Further Information Contact:
Centre for Transparency Advocacy
No 28 A, plot 696/8 House A, Ubiaja Crescent, Garki II, FCT, Abuja.