You've disappointed us, Borno residents tell Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

…likens virus to rapture; says he will quarantine his family in Warri

…hails passage of Tuomo aquaculture college bill to second reading

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

A member of the House of Representatives, representing Burutu Federal Constituency of Delta State, Hon. Julius Pondi has advised the federal government to immediately emulate Lagos State government and shut down all public schools, markets, worship places and open gatherings to save Nigerians from rampaging coronavirus.

Burutu who spoke to Journalists in Abuja on the heels of the passage of his bill to establish a federal college of fisheries and aquaculture in Tuomo, Delta State to a second reading at Thursday plenary of the House likened the scare of the virus to rapture.

He regretted that the House in its resolutions on Wednesday rejected an amendment to shut down the public schools.

Also read: Alleged N673m money Laundering: EFCC re-arraigns ex-Lagos Speaker

According to him, closing down public schools, for now, should be the first port of call.

He said: “Just yesterday at the airport, I saw a school going for an excursion in Lagos at this time? Somebody said yesterday, they should close schools and they said no. I wonder why they said no. I am of the opinion that the first port of call should be the schools. That where our younger people are.

They should close down these places. Lagos State government did very well by saying there will be no public gatherings again. That is fantastic. Other states should emulate Lagos and close down public gatherings. Yes, people must have planned parties and all that but it is better than dying. That one can wait while you save your life.

“Three weeks ago, the minority leader moved a motion that the House should adjourn for two weeks and you know Nigerians will always be Nigerians. The Deputy Speaker presided. We agreed and the nation responded and I also agreed with their response because they said why are protecting ourselves. Is it that we don’t want to die but we want others to die. To me, that was an invalid argument. And when the Speaker came, that was reverted.

“Nobody is safe. We are all in this together because in the public hearing yesterday, a woman said that her daughter came from the UK or US, I can’t remember now. Assuming that her daughter had coronavirus, then automatically, everybody that was in that room may have had contact with her. By today, we were all in. The chamber together. Then we must have contacted it. At the close of work today, we will all go home, then to our constituencies either by buses or plane. Then we start spreading it. That situation doesn’t exclude anybody. Nobody is safe.

“I want to suggest and advise that, going by what the Lagos state has done, everybody should emulate that. All schools should be closed down. All markets should be closed down. In fact, churches should be closed down for now. Let’s save our lives. It is a life first. And I don’t want to believe that anybody appears to be safe in this situation. We are all in this together.

“I was telling somebody that if I hear that coronavirus has come to Abuja, I will leave unless it starts will me. When I go to Warri, I will quarantine my family there. And I hear it is in Warri leave and run to my village and that is the only place I cannot run. I will sit down and face it even if I die, let them bury me in my village.

“Look, I was thinking it is the only rapture that will give us this kind of scar because of the way it is being described in the Bible. I didn’t believe I will see this in my lifetime where I don’t have where to run to. No choice. You will just wait for it to come.”

The federal lawmaker doubted the capacity of the Nigerian government to contain the spread of the virus.

“Preparation? Far from it. I don’t think that there is any sign of preparation on our part from the government to even lawmakers. Yesterday, we tried to take measures to safeguard the national assembly. But nothing has actually changed from yesterday to today. It is still at porous at it is. You have two entrances to our chamber. If you follow the one at the front, there is somebody there holding is it thermometer to check your temperature. Then, there is hand sanitizer. By by the time you get to the back gate, there nobody there. That’s on our part.

“Then as a nation, I don’t think we are prepared but I still believe that Nigeria as a country is still thinking that coronavirus is not yet here because I don’t see them as people who believe that this ravaging virus is going to get to Nigeria.

“How many quarantine facilities do we have in Nigeria? Just 3. And what is the capacity and what efforts are we doing to put in place facilities to accommodate the spread?

“A colleague of mine told me we have two cases in Abuja already, one in Apo, one in Gwarimpa. So, we already have coronavirus here. That means it is already in our doorstep here. So, what measures do we have?

“Now, WHO has warned that Africa should be ready. They know we are not ready and we are not even close to being ready. That’s why they are warning.”

On the establishment of the aquaculture and agriculture college, Pondi said it was necessary to give his local government which he said was the first administrative headquarters of Nigeria a sense of belonging.

“I come from an old local government, Burutu. In fact, we have some school of thought that said that was the first administrative headquarters of Nigeria before Calabar, Lagos and Abuja. When you go there, you see the ancient things.

“As old as that local government is, there is no federal presence by way of the institution. Even a primary school or technical college except for this one we are proposing now. The only thing we have is a federal asset where on a daily basis we pump oil to Abuja.

“And it is a burden on persons from that place. So, what the bill is seeking to cure is to bring education closer to the people. Again, it is aquaculture and agriculture because the college will be friendly with the environment. We are a coastal local government”, he said.

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