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Africa contributes 2-3% gas emissions, suffers negative impact of climate change - Adesina

The current travails of the Nigerian- born President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, whose leadership is under serious threat from the government of the United States of America, USA, over allegations of financial impropriety, should be stoutly resisted by the shareholders for the continued survival of the multilateral body.

NOT many Nigerians will charge their glasses today in toast to the country’s 21st anniversary of the return of democratic governance due largely to broken promises of life abundant by the political class which has manifested in deep rooted bribery and corruption, huge deficits in housing, water, food, health care, education, power supply as well as massive poverty and insecurity, among others in the land.

The speed with which Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma signed the bill repealing the “Pension and Gratuity Law for ex-governors, their deputies, speakers of the House and their deputies” into law, after its passage by the State House of Assembly recently, which will save the state of over N1billion annually, clearly, is a further manifestation of his unshaken resolve to provide good governance, harness financial resources for the provision of the needed infrastructures for the greater number of Imolites and we totally welcome the abolition.

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Accepted that the gesture from them is more symbolic than it’s face value, the truth is that the effective deployment and utilization of the 425 Catholic hospitals by the PTF will drastically resolve the dearth of isolation centres which is critical to the fight against the vicious COVID-19 pandemic. 

It is clear that the Catholic hospitals will as well be willing to put their health workers including doctors and nurses at the disposal of the PTF on COVID-19 with assurances of parity in allowances with the government appointed health workers.

It is obvious that the coronavirus pandemic which has halted activities in the global economy has revealed the inadequacies and indeed, the dilapidated but sorry state of the Nigeria health care sector.

It has also revealed the incompetence and failure of most successive Nigerian governments and by extension, the political class.

Sadly, it took more than the alarm raised by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that the nation now lacks sufficient bed spaces at the various isolation centres for Nigerians to concede to the fact that the country is indeed in grave danger of possible implosion in the face of the ravaging effects of the disease which cure has not been found.

The shortage of bed spaces amidst insufficiency in testing medical laboratories, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and reacting agents among others persists in the face of multibillion naira donations from corporate organizations and individuals both foreign and local for which many of the states are struggling hard to outdo each other in strategies and data in order to get a larger chunk of the funds.

It is therefore a welcome development that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN had quickly risen to the challenge and acted as the nation’s conscience by putting 425 hospitals owned by the Catholic Church at the disposal of the PTF as possible isolation centres for the treatment of coronavirous patients.

We consider such rare gesture from the Bishops not only as humbling but serves as a pointer to what the nation stands to gain if and when it learns how to effectively harness its human and material resources to the good of the majority.

Accepted that the gesture from them is more symbolic than it’s face value, the truth is that the effective deployment and utilization of the 425 Catholic hospitals by the PTF will drastically resolve the dearth of isolation centres which is critical to the fight against the vicious COVID-19 pandemic.

It is clear that the Catholic hospitals will as well be willing to put their health workers including doctors and nurses at the disposal of the PTF on COVID-19 with assurances of parity in allowances with the government appointed health workers.

Such exemplary disposition on the part of Bishops in donating their facility to such a national cause is likely to yield multifaceted dividends contrary to the move by federal lawmakers to legislate on a forceful takeover of private facilities as isolation centres.

Part of the proposed Infectious Diseases Bill which gives government power to convert private properties to isolation centres is a stark product of bad thinking and a manifestation of  insensitivity on the part of the legislature.

The Bill sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu, which seeks to empower an agency of the federal government to convert any property in the country, including private properties, to isolation centres was read at plenary on Tuesday April 28, 2020 before it hurriedly passed first and second readings on the same day.

Although the current increase in number of new cases of coronavirus patients as well as the number of deaths calls for concern, it is expected that all stakeholders should deploy their creative thinking in fashioning out solutions to the nation’s crises which will last beyond the era of the COVID-19 era. The health sector as is with the education sector is standing as glaring example of how badly that Nigeria has done as a nation with a history of 60 years post independence experience.

Nigeria can learn from China in its response to fighting COVID-19. In Beijing and Wuhan, 1,000 bed capacity hospitals were built respectively in days. Nigeria must look beyond providing temporary measures and respond to current health crisis with more long-lasting solutions. Refurbishing abandoned national buildings into hospitals is one of such.

The current scrambling for chunk of the COVID-19 cash donations on the part of state governments who are churning out figures of purported victims of the pandemic is totally uncalled for.

We have good reasons to commend and indeed support the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its oil company partners who resorted to building ultra modern hospitals and diagnostic centres in all the six geo-political zones in the country with the ground breaking ceremony of the first of such centres already conducted in Yenegua, the Bayelsa State capital.

We however caution against any form of Greek gifts which could be tantamount to arm-twisting government into following untoward bidding of any groups or individuals. In sounding the alarm, we are mindful of the insistence of some religious groups who are bent on compelling government in easing the lockdown on religious activities.

Nigeria is yet to flatten the curve on confirmed coronavirus cases hence the warning on attempts at dropping the guards. At  4,971 confirmed cases  in the country with the number of recorded deaths at  164 as at Wednesday, My 13, 2020 and with experts warning that the worst is yet over, it will be suicidal for the country to lift ban on religious gathering.

This is more imperative given the apparent disregard by the people to the observance of the guidelines and conditions designed by government prior to the easing of the lockdown on businesses including markets and public transportation, especially in Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a development that has prompted calls in certain quarters for government to revoke the relaxing of the lockdown.

For a better society

AS Nigerian Christians and their counterparts across the Christendom round off the celebration of Easter today, its significance and lessons including the supreme price paid by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of mankind, and his resurrection upon which Christianity was founded should not be lost by all the faithful.

Reprieve is certainly on the way for the Nigerian economy currently under serious threat from the dreaded Coronavirus ravaging the world following the N3.5billion stimulus announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN  and we totaling welcome the lifeline as it will go a long way to insulating the country from plunging into another round of recession.

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“We challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the travel ban on all countries with recorded cases of the diseases as announced by some countries including African nations.

Across the country also, immediate steps should be taken to sensitize all Nigerians on the danger posed by COVID-19 as it will be catastrophic if the disease is allowed to take root in the country while the ban on all religious gathering of over 50 people by the Lags State government is commendable and should be emulated by other states as part of measures to contain the pandemic”.

AS the deadly coronavirus, otherwise tagged Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage lives and economies worldwide with 8,312 deaths and 208,550 reported cases among them 12 in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck in the country to protect all citizens and stop further escalation of the disease given the weak health system in the country.

And given the devastating consequences of the Coronavirus so far coupled with increasing number of cases after the index case of an Italian was first detected in Lagos February 27, we believe that the time for the federal, state and local governments to mobilize both the entire citizenry and the organized private sector to take all necessary steps to contain and possibly defeat the disease like we did to Ebola is now.

We recall that COVID-19 that first broke out in Wuhan, China, early December 2019, which the World Health Organization, WHO already declared a pandemic has regrettably spread to over 170 countries and territories around the world thereby constituting major threat to global economies, aviation and manufacturing sectors as well as commodity prices such as crude oil, which has dropped by over 45 percent since January and account for 60 percent of Nigeria’s total annual revenue.

China and Italy according to the latest statistics on the disease are the worst hit across the globe. COVID-19 which symptoms may include shortness of breath, infection and fever we further not can be avoided through regular washing of hands with soap under running water; covering the mouth and nose properly with a handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing; avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing; shunning self-medication and reporting to the nearest health facility when one experiences any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

As a necessary precaution also, healthcare givers are also encouraged to always observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients as well as take a travel history.

Even though about 83,230 people who were infected with the disease have reportedly recovered, the increasing number of cases of carriers in Nigeria (12) as at Thursday is worrisome and should serve as a wake-up call for all to take precautionary steps to stem the pandemic from further escalating in the country in the interest of the people.

As an immediate step, we recommend that all tiers of government through their respective public enlightenment units led by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, should immediately embark on massive awareness campaign to educate the citizenry on the causes, symptoms, treatment of the disease as well as how to combating.

Regrettably and contrary to past assurances by the Federal Government that the country was ready to contain the virus at the nation’s various entry points including the international airports and land borders, what is crystal clear is that all the reported cases so far were imported into Nigeria exposing how unprepared our health system is in the event of national emergency.

In fact the implication of the above is that there are more potential cases of infected Nigerians than those already detected since as experience has shown that some people who got exposed to carriers of the virus unknown of their status as it takes 14 days to clearly manifest.

Besides, it is clear that many rural dwellers are not yet to be properly educated on the deadly virus thus making the country very vulnerable to escalation of the pandemic and considering that there are only three World Health Organisation (WHO) designated laboratories in the country, namely the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) in Edo State, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Abuja and the centre in Lagos.

We welcome the establishment of a presidential task force for the control of the virus as well as the newly inaugurated seven-man committee by the Nigeria Governor’s Forum to address and curb further spread of the disease.

The battle against COVID-19 in our view must be fought decisively with relevant government agencies and experts taking the lead in doing the needful.

Therefore, the Federal Government’s decision to slam a travel ban on 13 nations including the United States of America, the United Kingdom and China though belated is aright step in the right direction while officials should tighten their surveillance and screening of inbound passengers at our air, land and sea borders.

We further challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the travel ban on all countries with recorded cases of the diseases as announced by some countries including African nations.

Across the country also, immediate steps should be taken to sensitize all Nigerians on the danger posed by COVID-19 as it will be catastrophic if the disease is allowed to take root in the country while the ban on all religious gathering of over 50 people by the Lags State government is commendable and should be emulated by other states as part of measures to contain the pandemic.

We enjoin leaders of religious bodies such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Jama’atu Nasril Islam to fully cooperate with the government in enforcing the ban in Lagos and other states that may come up with similar measure in the interest of both worshippers and the country.This is in line with similar restriction earlier announced by the Vatican in Rome, Italy and the Saudi Arabia, two prominent religious centres in the world. Adherents should pray more at home for now.

The proposed shut down of both public and private schools by states such as Anambra, Lagos, Oyo  as well as their counterparts in the North West geo-political zones as well as the postponement of the National Sports Festival slated for Benin City the Edo State capital by President Buhari is equally commendable to enable pupils, students and athletes stay at home while governments should step up measures to stop further spread of the disease.

States should, in our view immediately establish at least one functional isolation centre each as well as ultra modern laboratory where blood sample of suspected COVID-19 cases can be tested in a record time unlike the present situation where there are only three of such centres certified by the W.H.O. Vigorous public enlightenment should similarly by carried out to guide against stigmatization of infected persons in order to encourage voluntary test by the people.

Similarly, we challenge the government to provide the needed clement environment for indigenous manufacturers to partner with their foreign counterparts to commence the production of test kits, sanitizers, face masks, thermometer and other equipment locally needed to contain the pandemic and defeat it. This will make the items not only easily available but affordable to majority of Nigerians.

The outbreak of the disease again, has offered a fresh opportunity for the federal and state governments to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets as recommended by the W.H.O. to health as part of measures to strengthen the health system and boost the national health security since the security and welfare of the citizens is the primary responsibility of government.

We call on citizens not to cause panic and tension with the spread of fake news and misinformation on social media since Coronavirus can only be contained through active collaboration between government and the people.

For a better society

The establishment of a 56- member Committee by the Senate to further review the 1999 Constitution as amended has availed yet another golden opportunity to the lawmakers to scrutinize the document and propose fresh amendments that will promote good governance at all tiers of government and make life more meaningful for the citizenry.

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