Says Nigerians are disappointed

COVID-19: CSOs express displeasure over lack of palliative provisions in Buhari’s address

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Civil Society Organisations, Tuesday, expressed displeasure over alleged lack of palliative provisions in President Muhammadu Buhari’s national broadcast on Sunday.

Speaking with Vanguard on the President’s address, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, said the President failed to speak on what Nigerians wanted to hear, which were interventions including food, access to testing kits, water and power supply for the two weeks lockdown.

Rafsanjani said: “What Nigerians were expecting Mr. President to speak about the as long term, short term and immediate interventions to ameliorate sufferings of Nigerians by virtue of directive by Mr. President to stay at home for the next two weeks.

“Giving the fact that many go out to work and earn a living because they do not have money to buy foodstuff to stockpile at their homes for a period of two weeks, they have to come out and work and earn a living.

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“The kind of palliatives we wanted Mr. President to talk about was how food items would be made available and distributed to sufferings Nigerians who do not have money to go shopping.

“We did not expect Mr. President to be talking about school feeding programme, trade moni, market moni, and others, but we expected him to talk about providing testing kits for coronavirus, how the government is working to ensure that there is isolation centres, drugs, and treatment is made available and purchased for Nigerians, no centres stated for them to access, no information for them to know whether health care officers will come and test them.

“It is not a matter of quarantining people when you don’t have food for them to eat they will die, no access to health care, testing kits the people will die, in fact, you are solving one problem and creating another problem.

“We also expect Mr. President guaranteeing Nigerians that there will be regular electricity and water supply to Nigerians because to fight the virus you need clean water to wash hands and for other uses. These are the things we wanted to hear from Mr. President.

“The statement of Mr. President unfortunately further shows serious gaps in the expectations of Nigerians. We are talking about the immediate ameliorating of Nigerians; we cannot be talking about the school feeding programme while the school children are at home with their parents.

“Look at what other countries are doing for the citizens; they go from house to house distributing food, fumigating public places including distribution of hand-sanitizers. In fact, many Nigerians have no hope in Mr. President’s address on Sunday

“If we are talking about lockdown there are basic things the government needs to be done like food supply, portable drinking water, power supply, access to health care services, access to testing kits, and other basic provisions.

“Prices of goods have skyrocketed and this is the time for the government to set up price control committee to stabilize prices of goods and services.

“What Nigerians are saying is that they have been abandoned, nobody is doing anything about their health conditions, and they are suffering. So it is not just to quarantine Nigerians it is to provide food for them to be healthy and be alive.”

Also, the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, in his assertion said as far as palliatives are concerned there is no political will by the government to ameliorate the plight of Nigerians during the two weeks lockdown.

“The government in terms of the palliative measure the government has not even shown the will to do anything because we saw how they went across the country to various markets sharing the trader moni.

“Like I said before for such an aggressive style to be used to distribute the palliatives to poor people, especially in the rural areas, satellite towns, and villages when it is needed.

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“On school feeding programme, whoever including that in his speech did a great disservice to him because they ought to have known that schools are closed across the country including secondary, primary and tertiary institutions.”

Meanwhile, he said the declaration on the lockdown was much expected but came too late when the deadly virus had penetrated the country.

“The address of the President met my expectations because we have been calling for the lockdown from day one and the lockdown came too late because if the President had listened when we were calling and appealing the sir space and land borders be shut we will not have coronavirus finding its way into Nigeria.

“And haven found its way the President would have immediately effected a lockdown in the country and the President has so many constitutional powers to do so; he can declare a state of emergency, use restriction order Act, and statutory laws created by our laws”, he added.


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