COVID-19 is now in Nigeria, and the virus will test the leadership mettle of Africa’s largest democracy. This is also a time to unite to fight this battle, because “a divided house shall not stand”.
Here are my immediate recommendations to the government of Nigeria, as they rapidly prepare Nigeria for a potential catastrophe, even if that catastrophe does not come:
The federal government must immediately convene a “Federal and States Corona Task Force”, comprising of the Minister for Health, and the Commissioners for Health, of all the 36 states.
The Task Force should immediate commence to hold weekly “Video Conference Calls” (Video calls would avoid risk of physical proximity infections), compare notes, and evaluate available resources and preparedness for the containment of COVID-19 nationwide.
The federal government should in coordination with the 36 states, organize a partial shutdown of all non-essential work, and services, and gatherings of more than 10 persons, for at least a 2 to 3 weeks duration, with a possibility of further extension.
The federal government should convene a private-sector task force of the “Nigerian Medical Association” and the “Nigerian Pharmaceutical Association”, to form a joint task-force, to coordinate healthcare delivery, therapies and data reportage. This body would also meet weekly, via Video Conference Calls, to report on member’s field-reports, and the impact of COVID-19 on direct patient-care.
The federal government should convene an emergency meeting between the “Telecommunications Companies” and the government, with a view to reaching an understanding, to provide citizens with 2-4 weeks’ worth of free or highly subsidized phone and data services, for the duration of the shutdown above, for all elderly and all lower income citizens.
The federal government should prepare an emergency Executive Order (later to be passed into law by legislators), prohibiting all price-gouging, profiteering, or contract misappropriation by government officials, in regard to COVID-19, with stiff penalties of incarceration for up to 10 years, without option of fine, upon conviction of any violators.
The federal government may initiate any other monetary reliefs for citizens, over the next 30 days, including cash payments, such as the “Trader-moni” scheme that this same government provided during last year’s national elections.
The government of Nigeria would be wise to execute the above recommendations immediately, to avoid a major public health catastrophe in Nigeria, given the non-existence of modern healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria.
May God Bless and Help the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Okey Samuel Mbonu is Executive Director of Washington, DC-based Nigerian-American Council (NAC) and Former Presidential Aspirant in 2019
Statement Released By:
Charles Adeyinka, Snr. Media Assistant to Hon. Okey Samuel Mbonu
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