The Federal Government says state governments and communities would now handle the battle to contain Coronavirus in the country.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the pandemic, Boss Mustapha, said this on Sunday at the State House after members of the PTF briefed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mustapha said the Federal Government will henceforth only provide supervision and coordination.
With him at the briefing were Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire; National Coordinator of the PTF Dr. Sani Aliyu; Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekwaezu, and Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola.
Mustapha said, “The ownership of the next stage will be the responsibility of the states because we have gone into community transmission.
”Where are the communities? The communities are in the states. So, the ownership of the next stage will be the responsibility of the states, the local government, the traditional institutions, the religious leaders at the different levels of our communities, because that is where the problem is.
”Like we’ve kept saying, 20 local governments out of 774, account for 60 per cent of confirmed cases in Nigeria today. So where are these 20 local governments? They are in communities. It means we have reached the apex of community transmission and we must get the communities involved.
”So, the issues of places of worship, the issues of schools, the issues of some certain businesses that were not opened hitherto are part of the packages that we have looked at and we have made the appropriate recommendations, but you know that Mr President is the only one that can take decisions in respect of these.
”In the framework, the states are subnationals, they have their own responsibilities too, so it is in the exercise of those responsibilities that they had meetings with those religious bodies and agreed on the guidelines and protocols on how they can open up, but in the framework of the national response, we are taking that into consideration”, he said.
According to him, Nigeria had reached the critical stage of community transmission, adding that communities were under the supervision of the council areas, under which structure the communities fall.
He said there would also be the full involvement of traditional and religious institutions, adding that managing the health crisis at this point had melted down into the more complex community level.
On easing up the lockdown, he said, ”The issue of easing up, you know we are in the first phase, we had an extension of two weeks for the first phase, the next phase should be the second phase and along with that will come in with a lot of recommendations, which we expect Mr President to consider.
”We have started, even in the first phase and the extension that came with it. Essential parts of the economy was opening up by way of allowing agricultural production, people that produce fertilizers.
”The oil and gas industry was never closed for one day and some aspects of the financial sector were opened. After we receive Mr President’s approval tonight (yesterday) or tomorrow (today) morning, we will now know which segment of the economy he has allowed to open”, he said.
He added: “We are winning. As a matter of fact, you juxtapose the rate of cases with our fatality rate, which is basically about three per cent, in other countries and other climes, it’s over 10 per cent, but the most important thing that you will realise, when we started this exercise, we had only five testing stations, now we’ve ramped it up to 28, without correspondent increase in the number of deaths. We’ve gone beyond 60,000 tests now, that reflects in the number of confirmed cases
”We’ve not reached the peak yet and I won’t want to fool Nigerians by telling them that we are out of the woods. No, we are not out of the woods.