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COVID-19 cases in Africa hit 30,000 – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo says the number of COVID-19 cases in the WHO African Region has increased to over 30,000.

The UN’s health agency gave the update on its official twitter account @WHOAFRO on Sunday.

“Over 30,000 COVID-19 cases reported on the African continent with over 9,000 associated recoveries and 1,300 deaths recorded,’’ it said.

The WHO African Region COVID-19 dashboard showed that in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa suffered the most severe outbreak, while Cameroon and Ghana had more than 2, 500 confirmed cases.

The figures on the dashboard showed that South Africa, Algeria, and Cameroon had continued to top the list of countries with the highest reported cases.

It showed that South Africa had 4, 361 cases and 86 deaths followed by Algeria with 3, 256 cases and 419 deaths, while Cameroon had 1,518 confirmed cases with 53 deaths.

According to the dashboard, South Sudan, Sao Tome, and Principe, Mauritania is a country with the lowest confirmed cases in the region.

It showed that South Sudan had the lowest confirmed cases of five reported with zero death.

Mauritania, the dashboard showed, was the second country with the lowest confirmed cases with seven reported cases and one death.

Sao Tome and Principe, the third country with the lowest cases, had recorded eight confirmed cases with zero death.

Also, the dashboard showed that Nigeria was number five among the countries with the highest cases with 1, 182 confirmed cases and 35 deaths. (Vanguard)

The Truth


Vaccine group suggests manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they are fully tested

It might be necessary to start manufacturing coronavirus vaccines even before they have been fully tested to see if they can protect people from infection, said Richard Hatchett, the CEO of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

CEPI is a non-profit put together organization formed to speed the development of vaccines.

Manufacturing could begin even while some of the Covid-19 vaccines are in the first phase of human clinical testing, which are designed to demonstrate only safety, Hatchett said Saturday.

This plan could cut time without cutting corners or sacrificing efficacy or safety, Hatchett said on a National Academy of Sciences Covid-19 Update webcast.

Large-scale manufacturing doesn’t usually start until after a vaccine has passed all three phases of clinical trials, a process that usually takes years. CEPI first published outlines of the plan to accelerate the process in The New England Journal of Medicine in March.

It may be more expensive to do things this way, Hatchett said.

“If we want to deliver vaccine at scale within … our stipulated targets of 12 to 18 months from the initiation of the program, we’re going to have to be comfortable with those risks,” he said. He estimated that tens of billions of dollars will be spent over the next several years for vaccine delivery.

“If we shorten the pandemic by a month, we’re saving hundreds of billions of dollars. And that’s the calculus the elected leaders need to make,” Hatchett said.

CEPI has funded several Covid-19 vaccine research projects, including all three of the vaccines currently being tested in people. Two of the vaccines are in phase one clinical trials – vaccines from Moderna and Inovio – and only China’s CanSino Bio vaccine advanced to the second phase of clinical trials earlier this month.

Moderna already intends to use funding from the US federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to help fund a scale-up of its manufacturing process, according to a statement from the company earlier this month. [CNN]

The Truth

Trump goes into hiding

It looks like President Trump is going into hiding — from the press, that is. Facing an avalanche of controversy over his bizarre comments on sunlight and dangerous comments regarding disinfectants, the President held a record short briefing Friday evening (sans Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx), abruptly ending it after 22 minutes of statements without taking any questions from the press.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer called Trump “chicken” and said he was “probably afraid” of the grilling he was all but certain to face over the “flat lie” he told the day before regarding disinfectants.

Later in the night, Anderson Cooper, who argued Trump was guilty of “Soviet”-like spin for pretending his comments were sarcastic during a bill signing, said he “cut and ran”because he knew he’d face hard questions.

CNN and other news organizations, including Axios which broke the news, reported Friday evening that there has been an effort among White House aides to stop holding daily coronavirus briefings. And the schedule released for Saturday shows no briefings scheduled…


The move comes after Trump even started receiving criticism from Fox. When he tried to claim that he was merely being sarcastic with his disinfectant remarks, anchors like Neil Cavuto and Bret Baier pushed back.

“Wow, that is a little unsettling,” said Cavuto. “Got to clarify this. The president was not joking in his remarks yesterday.” And Baier said Trump “clearly stepped in it” and did not appear to be joking.>> Worth noting: While some on Fox pushed back against Trump’s remarks, AP’s David Bauder pointed out that the network didn’t question them on Thursday.

The network’s news site also questioned whether critics had “twisted” Trump’s words. And Trump’s biggest defenders on the network still are not challenging him. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump does an on-air chat sooner than later with one of his friends on Fox while he dodges questions from the press…

network didn’t question them on Thursday. The network’s news site also questioned whether critics had “twisted” Trump’s words.

And Trump’s biggest defenders on the network still are not challenging him. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump does an on-air chat sooner than later with one of his friends on Fox while he dodges questions from the press…

Drudge brutally mocks

It wasn’t just Fox anchors like Cavuto and Baier. The Drudge Report, which has grown critical of Trump, but is still one of the top conservative news websites, brutally mocked Trump on Friday.

Take a look at the site’s banner headline and image (and pay attention to what the label says). Ouch!That said, some loyal outlets tried defendingThat’s not to say that Trump didn’t have right-wing outlets rush to defend him.

Websites like The Daily Wire, The Gateway Pundit, and Breitbart all published stories trying to convince readers that Trump didn’t say what he clearly said. Breitbart’s story, written by Joel Pollack, was widely mocked online.And it appeared by late Friday that it even had crossed a line for Breitbart’s senior management.

A note was appended to the top of Pollack’s story saying it had been “erroneously framed” as a fact check when it should have been labeled opinion. “We apologize for the error, and you are welcome for all the opportunities to dunk on us on Twitter,” the note said. Yikes!>> Of course, worth noting that Breitbart’s note came after Trump claimed his remarks were sarcastic, effectively admitting he made them.

Which brings me to this point from Ben Collins who tweeted, “Shout out to all of the fringe media outlets who feverishly scrambled all night to claim Trump didn’t say to inject disinfectant, or that he was referencing some obscure UV light treatment, only to be kneecapped at noon by the president, who now says he was just kidding…”

White House even tries reassigning seats

Back to Trump’s aversion to the press… Before Friday’s briefing, the White House attempted to force CNN to swap its front-row seat with the seat reserved at the back of the room for the print pooler. Kaitlan Collins, who was in the room for CNN, said on Twitter that both she and the print pooler, The Blade’s Chris Johnson, refused.

The briefing ultimately took place with both of them in their original seats.The WHCA controls the press seating assignments, not the White House, so the officials had no real authority to try to pick and choose where Collins or Johnson sat.

But it’s worth noting the lengths the White House went to in its effort to implement this move. Johnson said he had been told by a White House official that it wasn’t an option and that the Secret Service was involved. The Secret Service later told the WHCA that it was “not involved whatsoever in this effort.”

Karl says WHCA will “challenge any effort” to move reporters

I spoke by phone with WHCA President Jon Karl on Friday night. “The bottom line,” Karl told me, “is there is a decades long bipartisan tradition of the WHCA determining the seating assignments in the briefing room.” He said, “I don’t know what the White House is doing, but I know where we stand. We will challenge any effort to pick and choose what outlets are there or the manner in which they are in there.”

No comment from the White House

I emailed Kayleigh McEnany and Hogan Gidley multiple times on Friday night asking for comment. Why did the White House try to force a seat swap? Why did an official say the Secret Service was involved in the matter when the Secret Service says it wasn’t? I never heard back… [CNN]

The Truth

I love Nigerian chicken, food – Rohr

In an interview on Instagram recently, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr talked about his time with the national team, signing a new contract and his love for Nigerian delicacies. KELVIN EKERETE monitored the session

You heard the NFF president Amaju Pinnick say that you have been offered a new contact with some (new) conditions. Will you be happy to sign the contract?

My philosophy is not to speak publicly about these things (contract issues). It has always been not to speak about these contractual and very confidential things. It’s even written in my contract that we don’t speak about things publicly. But of course, I saw on TV, social media and newspapers what has been said, but I cannot comment on it. All I can say is that in three years that I have been with Nigeria, most of my time I spend (them) in Nigeria, apart from when I have to go to see my players. They are all in Europe, only one, a goalkeeper (Ikechukwu Ezenwa), plays in Nigeria. When I’m not in Nigeria, I travel to Europe to meet my players, their coaches in their clubs to watch their matches, communicate with them. I do this all the time but I always return to Nigeria. When I look at the past three years, I have spent more time in Nigeria than in Europe. It’s only what I see from the past. I am waiting for the (NFF) proposal. Things could be very easy because I don’t want more money, bonuses or anything special but I only want to work as free as I could. I will wait for the proposal first. Personally, I’ve had few offers from other countries but I refused them because I said I am still under contract.  I want to finish my work with Nigeria, go to the next AFCON and World Cup in 2022. It means for us to continue working together, I have to show my players, and employers that I have the motivation to continue.

What was the content of the discussion you had with Pinnick in London, back in February?

I cannot say what he said in the meeting in February. I cannot speak about it because it is a confidential thing.

You recently got a new assistant, Joseph Yobo. Have you spoken with him?

We’ve talked, I already asked him to help me with the players in the Nigerian league because I cannot move around at the moment. I asked him to be in touch with our players in Nigeria. So that’s what he’s doing. He is speaking with them and I am happy that he is motivated and in good spirit, and I think we can work very well together.  It is interesting to have such a great former player with us. I’m also satisfied with the job of Imama Amapakabo, my former assistant. However, as NFF decided to change him, I have to accept him (Yobo) and I see that he’s in a good spirit and I am happy about it. I will make sure there won’t be any problem with our staff. I think it would be easy.

Personally, are you happy to stay and work in Nigeria and stay with the team that you have built throughout this period?

Yes, of course, now, we’re like a family in the team, and the staff, including the medical and administrative staff, we are like a family. It’s been three years. Every person knows each other now. We have fashioned out ways of working together. When you see the calendar, you see that there are so many games in the second half of the year. We are getting ready for these games. For the World Cup, there’s no time to experiment.

Have you spoken to Ighalo to ask him if he wants to come back?

We keep in touch all the time. There’s friendship between us, it’s more than business. We have (Cyriel) Dessers now. We have great strikers who can play that position too. This is a good foundation. For wingers, forwards, we have Samuel Chukwueze, Ahmed Musa, Samuel Kalu, Alex Iwobi and others too. We have what we need. These are players who have been to the World Cup and have played at some of the biggest stages in the world.

What are your thoughts about including more local players in your team?

I have invited more than 20 local players already into the Super Eagles since I took charge of the team. We invite them, next thing, they are off to European clubs. It is wonderful for them. We look out for quality players from the local league and everybody knows and this does not apply only to Nigeria, but also to Cameroon, Senegal and other countries; many of their players are in Europe and China. We monitor the league even though I cannot see them play in all the league matches. That’s why I communicate with the coaches of the age-grade competitions so that we can work together and monitor the best from the league, CHAN, U-20, U-17, we monitor everyone. Then the academies too, we look out for players from that side, not only from the league.This is a new chapter in the area of our work. I also need people like Victor Agali and Alloy Agu watching out for players for me, especially goalkeepers. Victor owns an academy. They give us the best advice regarding some of these players and we also have Yobo on board, he’s also good too. I had a very good relationship with the coach of the female side too (Thomas Dennerby) before he left. It is our strength (harmony). We train together, stay together and this is our first strength in the team and we try to maintain it. 

I was in England for Eze, I saw him play. I was there in his home. We are working on getting these guys to feature for the Eagles. There’s even this new guy I saw on video, I love the way he plays. He plays his club football in Holland (Chidera Ejuke).  We have lots of them at the moment. I have seen many of them play for their clubs live. However, they must be better than the people we have already. We have Joe Aribo now, we have (Oghenekaro) Etebo, who’s coming back in the midfield, we have Alex Iwobi, who can play in the midfield or wings, and we have Abdullahi Shehu, who is playing well in Turkey now. We have good players already. So, any new addition must be better than what we have. We have Ramon Azeez too. We would have brought in some other players; however, most have played for other countries. I have a list of 40 names.

Talking about the list, do you have a database of all the players of Nigerian origin?

 Yes, we have Nabil, a good analyst, as well as my chief scout, Tunde Adelakun, and we use the internet all the time, especially when I need information about a player. We have 94 to 96 names on this data list. We are following what they do. We also have somebody who watches the profile of these players we need.  It was when we were searching we found Kingsley Ehizibue. We have Tyronne Ebuehi coming back. We have to follow everybody up, that’s why we have our scouts searching and bringing reports.

How many hours of video do you and Nabil watch before you go to the pitch?

For Nabil, I think its 20 hours but for me, it’s half of that. This is because Nabil makes the analyses so I have time to do other things.

Do you modify your tactics according to the team you are playing against?

We try to adapt our tactics to the players we invite or have. We want to play to our own strength, if we see some weaknesses in the opponent’s team, we try to take advantage of it. This means that we try to play using that noticeable weakness as our vantage point. For example, when we see that they have a problem with defence, we work on our set-pieces. We have to do that all the time to see the strength and weaknesses of the opponent.

How do you get the videos? Nabil said he gets some of the tactical ones from teams that play in Europe?

We have our scouts and other systems we also use in getting our videos. There is a group in Germany that Nabil is working with. We also use technology to source for some.

What were you happiest about during the AFCON and what was your biggest disappointment?

The (second round) match against Cameroon. The game was wonderful. We were down twice and we came from behind to snatch the victory. Our game against South Africa was also fantastic. Everybody played, all the 23 players played well. There were some critics who asked why we took off Victor Osimhen. For the disappointment, I regret the second goal against Algeria because we could have won that match if we had proceeded into extra time.

Osimhen is doing great right now. What kind of future do you see for him?

If he stays humble and I know he will, he will go far. Though he’s had some difficult times with injuries and he had to start again from a small club. He has shown that he can fight, come back and play again at the highest level. So, if he stays humble, he will improve and develop. With Manchester United looking at him, he can be great.

What were you thinking when you started to change this team to become one of the youngest team since the 2018 World Cup?

We had the youngest team in Russia 2018; I think we can get better in 2022. Our target is to go to Qatar and make a very strong statement with this team.

We saw South Africa score a goal against Nigeria at the 2019 AFCON and it was controversial. Do you think we should have VAR again at the 2021 AFCON?

Yes. I think so. Because it can bring us justice in football even though sometimes, the interpretation is not so good.

Which Nigerian foods do you like the most?

I like vegetable soup; I like the real Nigerian chicken, not the industrial chicken but the local chicken. I like rice, I prefer natural foods. Though I eat Jollof rice sometimes, but I like white rice the most.  I hate fat. You could see me in the gym. I like to keep fit and watch my weight; I don’t want to grow fat. I also have where I train at home. (PUNCH)

The Truth

Coronavirus: Doctors seek extension of lockdown

  • NACCIMA, NECA, LCCI DG, Yari, Senate Minority Leader disagree
  • Ekiti, Osun, Zamfara, Imo, others record 87 new cases, total now 1,182

Ahead of the imminent review of the lockdown imposed on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the Nigerian Medical Association has advised the Federal Government to again extend the lockdown, which ends on Monday (tomorrow).

This, the association said, would help to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease.

It added that with the “exponential” rise in the number of cases recorded across the country daily, people should not see the lockdown as a punishment but a necessary measure to contain the spread of the deadly virus. It, however, stressed the need for fair distribution of the palliatives to cushion the hardship the restriction had caused Nigerians.

But the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association; and the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, opposed the possible extension of the total lockdown, saying the government should consider the partial opening of the economy.

The President had on March 29 imposed a 14-day lockdown on the FCT and the two states to contain the spread of the virus.

At the end of the 14 days, which terminated on April 13, the President extended the lockdown, saying the pandemic had become a matter of life and death and that it was no longer a joke.

However, barely a day to the end of the extension, stakeholders have disagreed on whether the President should extend the lockdown or ease it.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, had maintained that only the President could decide on whether there would be an extension of the lockdown or it would be lifted.

As of April 13 when the President extended the lockdown, the number of cases was 343 in 19 states and the FCT. The number of deaths was 10 while 91 persons had been discharged.

But, there were 87 new cases on Saturday, pushing the number of cases to 1,182 in 28 states and the FCT. The number of deaths rose to 35 while 222 persons had been discharged.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said on Sunday that the state had yet to reach its COVID-19 peak despite recording the highest case so far.

He had also warned on March 27 that the state might see up to 39,000 cases but that if everyone practised good social distancing, the figure would be limited to 13,000.

During the week, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chike Ihekweazu, had also hinted that the virus would eventually spread to all the 36 states.

“There is no reason why it won’t (extend to every state in Nigeria), it is a respiratory virus,” he added.

The DG also said on Tuesday that the President would make tougher decisions in the coming week on measures to contain the spread of the virus.

He, however, advised Nigerians to be prepared for the tougher directives. “Next week, Mr President will make some very difficult decisions for the country in terms of the lockdown in three states but also across the country in different ways,” he added.

Already, there is increasing tension and impatience among people in the affected states and the FCT over the possibility that the lockdown might be extended.

A cross-section of Nigerians, who spoke to Sunday PUNCH, lamented that they were eager to go back to work, adding that staying at home for a month had become traumatising.

But the NMA, citing the rate at which the virus was spreading as a major consideration, said the consequence of lifting the lockdown could be calamitous.

In an interview, NMA National President, Dr Francis Faduyile, said, “If we say we want to contain the spread and we are having exponential increase, is that when we should open up and resume work? It’s obvious that it’s not the time to open up.

“We are just getting to the peak and the spread is still ascending the slope. You can only ease the lockdown when you are seeing a lesser number of new cases. Would you also say Kano State should open up and resume normal activities when the cases are just being detected?

“Things that are unfolding show that we need to enforce even more. However, if we want to enforce the lockdown, then we should do things that would make life easier for people. That is to call on the government to do the needful in the fair distribution of the palliatives so that people can stay at home.

“It is for the benefit of the people that the lockdown rules should be respected. It is not a punishment. The consequence of not extending it is that those who may harbour the virus will be mixing freely in society and would be transmitting the virus to those who are not yet infected. That won’t be good.”

Faduyile lamented that compliance with the lockdown had not been satisfactory.

The World Health Organisation had on Tuesday warned countries not to lift the lockdown, saying, “No country is safe from potentially overwhelming outbreaks as long as the coronavirus is circulating.”

Meanwhile, those who oppose the extension argued that in spite of the rising cases, government could not continue to put the economy on a lockdown.

The Director-General, NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale, said there was a need for the government to relax the lockdown and that if necessary, businesses could be encouraged to do a roaster for their employees so there wouldn’t be more than a certain number of employees at work at any given time.

He also said the government should take cognisance of the increasing crime rate, poverty and likely uprising or revolt by those in a precarious situation, while noting that without specific palliatives, the lockdown could cripple businesses and make recovery more difficult.

He said, “Government should relax the lockdown while putting in place stringent national policy as done in Ghana, Germany and some other countries. I suggest a relaxed lockdown between 8 am and 4 pm and a curfew between 5 pm and 7 am.

“For anyone that will go out, face mask should be made compulsory. Non-use of the face mask should be criminalised. Inter-state travels should remain banned for now while all businesses can be mandated to ensure stringent protocols such as social distancing, provision of wash hand area and so on  within their premises.

“Without government giving specific palliatives such as part payment of salaries and direct tax waivers to businesses, the lockdown will further cripple businesses and make recovery more difficult.”

While calling for more tests to be carried out, he said information dissemination should be doubled so it could reach people in local areas.

The Director-General, NACCIMA, Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, also commended the federal and state governments for the strategies deployed so far to contain the virus. He, however, noted that the lockdown was no longer sustainable.

He said, “While we understand the reasons for the lockdown which has been on for almost a month; it has become necessary to review the lockdown order and replace it with a more strategic approach for various reasons. The continued lockdown is taking a serious toll on businesses across the country and the ripple effects on security are becoming alarming; especially as miscreants seize the opportunity to rob citizens and break into business premises.

“Consideration should be given to gradual opening of some businesses and other commercial operations. Steps should therefore be taken to allow some categories of workers to resume work and business operations while keeping to safety protocols, such as wearing of face masks, social distancing and ban on large gatherings.

“Certainly a lockdown order ad-infinitum is not sustainable and many of our members are of the view that this should be reviewed to ease the lockdown, of course without prejudice to safety, which is the duty of all.”

While calling for increased testing to identify the carriers of the virus, Olukanni commended the organisations that have provided palliatives for the underprivileged, noting that members of the association had been playing their roles in the fight against the deadly virus. He said they would continue to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential products and services at this difficult period

The Director-General of LCCI, Yusuf, who spoke in his personal capacity, said even though the lockdown was laudable to contain the spread of the virus, the sustainability had become a matter of concern.

He, therefore, advised that the government should consider the option of a partial lockdown.

Already, there had been rising insecurity, especially armed robbery, in some parts of Lagos and Ogun states, forcing the people to cry out for help, while some of them resort to keeping vigilance on the streets to ward off the thieves.

Yusuf said, “Lagos, for instance, is highly cosmopolitan, very mobile with a high velocity of business transactions. About 50 per cent of the Lagos economy is made up of the informal sector. One of the main features of the sector is that the operators live by the day. Keeping such a commercially active population indoors for a month is a great challenge.

“Neither the Lagos State Government nor the Federal Government has the capacity to manage the social consequences of a prolonged lockdown – hunger, restiveness and insecurity.

“This is why a long period of lockdown may not be sustainable.   The context of a problem should define the prescription.  An extension of the lockdown beyond the four weeks is not advisable.

“The option of partial lockdown should be considered.  This should be preceded by a robust COVID-19 risk assessment.  This should guide the targeting of the lockdown. Different economic activities present different vulnerabilities. In all cases, the observance of the COVID-19 protocols should continue under a regime of a partial lockdown.”

On their part, the Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria said if the government felt constrained to extend the lockdown on account of the rising cases, it should come up with better palliatives that would get to the target audience.

It said government should ensure that the youth, elderly people and those who depended on daily income but could not go to work now should be targeted as being done in other countries.

The National President of the association, Dr Femi Egbesola, said, “In the priority scale, health comes before wealth and at any point in time, it is better to prioritise health. If the lockdown is what is good for us now as a nation, even if we have sacrifices to make, it is better we cooperate. It’s only those who are alive that can do business, so our being alive is the topmost priority.

“But if there is a way they can relax the lockdown or do partial lockdown and we would still be safe, based on the advice of the medical experts, I think that would be better than total lockdown.

“There are some countries that have partial lockdown in place but the populace move with face masks, hand gloves and other protective wear. If there is a way that can be done, it’s okay because we will not say we want to be alive and then continue to suffer and begin to die physically or emotionally from the consequences of staying at home.

“If the medical experts advise that the lockdown should continue, there is an urgent need for the government to look at having more palliatives to reach the target audience.”

Independent of the lockdown imposed on the FCT and Lagos and Ogun states, many governors had also imposed lockdown on their states, while some imposed curfew.

Already, the Nigeria Labour Congress had called on the Federal Government not to extend the lockdown, warning that doing so might cause social unrest in the affected states and the FCT.

While faulting the approach employed in the distribution of the palliatives so far, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the “economy might relapse into prolonged coma if the current lockdown in the nation’s nerve centres goes beyond the current extension.”

On account of the rising cases across the states, governors of the 36 states of the federation on Wednesday unanimously agreed to impose a 14-day inter-state lockdown, saying the rise in the number of cases had become a matter of concern.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said in a communiqué issued after the forum’s teleconference meeting, “Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an inter-state lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread from state to state.”

PDP, ADC decry rising insecurity

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party and the African Democratic Congress have decried the rising banditry and hooliganism in some parts of the country on account of the lockdown in place in many states.

They alleged that the regime of the President had not put enough strategies in place to protect lives and property, while accusing the All Progressives Congress of not providing necessary inputs to the government to ensure the safety of Nigerians.

While bandits had attacked people in some states in northern Nigeria, a group of hoodlums called ‘one million boys’ had terrorised some parts of Lagos State.

They, however, called on the government to provide palliatives for Nigerians who had been asked to stay at home because of the COVID-19.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “We are not happy with the rising banditry and we have said that the first step to it is to make sure that the people, whom the government wants to stay out of their markets, stores and businesses, must have something to feed on. Government must provide palliatives for them.”

Also, the ADC National Publicity Secretary, Yemi Kolapo, said, “Citizens have been suffering but the coronavirus-induced hunger is grade one. Why would anyone add pepper to an open wound by allowing crime to thrive at this period? Something must be done fast.”

In a related development, the ADC has also expressed support for the resolution of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to impose an inter-state lockdown for two weeks. “We are in support of their decision, 100 per cent,” Kolapo said.

Lockdown not reducing infections in Lagos, others, Yari tells FG

A former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdul-Aziz Yari, has called on the  Federal Government to ease the total lockdown placed on Abuja Lagos, and Ogun states due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yari opined that the measures so far taken by the government had not slowed the spread of the pandemic.

He stated that freezing economic activities further would be counterproductive “as the instinct to survive by many people who are basically poor would frustrate compliance.”

According to a statement on Saturday by Yari’s spokesperson, Mr Mayowa Oluwabiyi, the former governor advised that the lockdown should be relaxed, while the use of face masks should be made compulsory for people to return to work.

“Social distancing, hand-washing and aggressive use of hand sanitisers should also be mandatory,” he said.

On the individual disposition of states as to how best to handle the pandemic, Yari cautioned against “solo approach” but suggested a coordinated action for a more effective result that would benefit the entire country with minimal room for resurgence.

Yari, however, hailed the recent broadcast of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) to the country, describing it as reassuring.

“The most important thing is that delegated officials are delivering on their mandate very well. I am happy the President offered to increase the number of people that can benefit from the Conditional Cash Transfer programme by another one million individuals,” he said.

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has warned the Federal Government against extending the coronavirus lockdown, saying it would lead to a major economic and security crisis in the country.

Abaribe on Saturday noted that pushing for an extension of the lockdown “could be combustible and counterproductive as the people seem totally worn out in all ramifications to soak in further shocks.”

The Senate Leader in a release in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, said the government should embark on a “cautious and guided lifting” of the lockdown.

He added that existing measures such as the compulsory wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitisers and other personal hygiene measures should be enforced in public places.

Abaribe said, “I will rather opt for a cautious and guided lifting of the lockdown while existing measures like compulsory wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitisers and others are enforced in public places.’’

“Aside from the above, daily disinfection of halls, rooms, vehicles, vessels, surroundings and all must become the new normal. Doing these would definitely tamp the hot air and guide our people to resume their normal life.

“My fear is that majority of our people in the informal sector are daily earners, hence their survival is predicated on their going out daily. Our people operate mostly in the commercial sector. I have the feeling that further extension of the lockdown would hurt the people more.”

Meanwhile, Abaribe applauded the police, particularly the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for intervening in the extrajudicial killings by some police personnel in Abia State. (PUNCH)

The Truth

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