…warns disease may spread further
…as NASS Leadership commends efforts so far
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Chairman, Presidential Taskforce, PTF on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha has said that all the resources gathered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic will be mobilised for direct development and delivery of critical infrastructure to States by the donors.
They will also be used for direct procurement and delivery of Personal Perspective Equipment, PPEs and other critical equipment by donors and deployment of Rapid Response Teams to states for capacity building and support; and expansion of testing capacity in the country.
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He, however, said that the PTF will not be directly involved in the collection and disbursement of the cash donations for COVID-19, saying that the main accounts were domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Mustapha who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF made the disclosures while briefing the leadership of the National Assembly on the activities and efforts of the team at curbing the spread of the disease on Thursday in Abuja.
He said: “The Accountant General of the Federation has already published the account details for collection through five commercial banks and also provided the modalities for its utilisation. All the main COVID-19 accounts shall be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria. However, all non-cash donations shall be duly received by the PTF, acknowledged, documented and appropriately deployed”.
The chairman also told the federal lawmakers that President Muhammadu Buhari had already noted the impact of the disease on the economy and the vulnerable in the society, saying it was for that reason he set up a team headed by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
According to him, the same applied to the economic sustainability committee headed by the Vice President; a stimulus package of over N500billion; the employment of 774,000 Nigerians; payment of Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Safety Net Programmes; continuation of the School Feeding Programme to sustain its nutritional value; the release of 70MT of grains from the Strategic Reserve for distribution in Lagos, Ogun States, the FCT as well as the 13 frontline states and the release of 150 trucks of seized rice and other commodities for distribution to the poor.
The PTF Chairman also stated that the pandemic that posed a significant public emergency in 209 countries of the world with over 1. 5 million cases, warning that the virus might even spread further.
“The disease has placed a considerable and significant strain on the global health care system and the economy of the world.
“Given the relentless exponential growth rate witnessed in other countries, the spread of the virus in the continent and in particular in Nigeria should be expected.
”The nation is at war against a very dangerous, unseen and ubiquitous enemy and all hands must be on deck to successfully prosecute the war”.
He said the virus has spread to no fewer than 16 states with six deaths, even as he warned that there should be “no illusion that this case affects all and it is on all of us to play our part in solving this.”
He added that the weakness in world health systems had been exposed by the pandemic, stressing that “the plan, therefore, is to lay a legacy foundation for the immediate, medium- and long-term development of the health system.”
Mustapha, therefore, urged the National Assembly to develop a legislative framework to prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic and reformation of the country’s healthcare systems.
On the other hand, the SGF said that President Buhari gave the PTF the powers to work out appreciate modalities to contain the spread of the disease.
He said that its achievements so far included ” High level political and multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms for preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic with consequent improvement in inter-ministerial and inter-agency coordination and collaboration across all areas of the pandemic response development of a National Multi-Sectorial Pandemic Response Plan and engagement of all MDAs and extra-ministerial departments in the response.
“High-level coordination of the United Nations Agencies and other bilateral and multilateral partners, foundations and international bodies involved in the response resulting in a common United Nations Basket Fund; accelerated procurement systems for good and services and attraction of donations from global philanthropists including Jack Ma as well as many corporate bodies operating in Nigeria.
“High-level engagement with the organized private sector with better coordination of their core competencies and expertise, especially CACOVID/ CBN COVID19 Response Fund and engagement with Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
“Mobilization of the States and Local Government areas resources in preparation for the possible spread of the disease into communities, including State Needs Assessment and state of preparedness.
“Stimulating economic national interests to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic including engagement of local manufacturers across the board for the stimulation of local production of essential commodities to reduce the dependence of imported commodities particularly local production of face masks, hand sanitizers, protective gear among others.
“Critical Review of the state of health systems in focal States and the FCT including improved surveillance system, and identification of available capacities for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients which has yielded over 1000 beds across facilities.
“Acquisition of intelligence data to guide strategic policy formulation and implementation of control measures such as may emanate from restrictions and or lockdowns of parts or all of the states.”
Mustapha said the PTF has been working in conjunction with the states, especially on testing, detection, isolation, contact tracing and management of coronavirus cases.
In their responses, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila commended Mustapha for displaying a high level of competency on the job.
Lawan was particularly excited by the level of coordination of all the stakeholders in the fight against the pandemic and the daily briefings which clearly kept Nigerians in the know of the national emergency strategies.
He, therefore, called for the harmonisation of the funds contributed by organisations and individuals for accountability.