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COVID-19: Buhari weighs tough options over lockdown as the second extension ends on Monday

Following the second 14-day lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory Abuja directive by Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari to lapse on Monday, April 27, the president Buhari may weighs tough options over lockdown for another extension.

The Federal government is not disposed to the call by state governors for the relaxation of the current lockdown in the country over the coronavirus pandemic, the Nation reports.

The sources said federal authorities are much in favour of partial restrictions in 33 of the 36 states with a view to mitigating the effects of the current lockdown in many parts of the country as against the relaxation being sought by the governors.

It was gathered that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 which President Muhammadu Buhari relies on principally for advice on the pandemic is not in agreement with the governors that the government should soft-pedal in the FCT, Lagos, Ogun and Kano states.

The president who is billed to address the nation on Monday, April 27, is said to be weighing the options before him.

Members of the PTF were locked in a marathon meeting on Saturday, April 25, on the format of the partial restrictions to put in place in 33 states without fueling the spread of the coronavirus.

The task force considered the status report on COVID-19 spread in each state of the federation, the input of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and local and international technical evaluation of the pandemic in the country.

According to the report, a top-level source said: “We are inching towards partial restrictions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory.

There is clamour for the partial lifting of the lockdown. This is why the PTF is meeting.

 “The PTF has received many suggestions but we are being careful not to reverse the gains of the last few weeks in the battle against coronavirus.

 “One of the knotty issues is a recommendation by the NGF that there should be internal free movement but with restrictions on large gatherings and assemblies nationwide.

But the PTF took exception to partial lifting of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos, Ogun and Kano states.”

A member of the NGF was reported to have said that the forum was on the same page with the PTF on the input of the governors except for one recommendation.

The source said: “I don’t think they (the PTF on COVID-19) have serious objection except with internal free movement where they believe that we should not relax the lockdown in the epicentres of Lagos, Kano, FCT and Ogun.

They may be right. “We have done our bit by presenting our input. You can contact the Chairman of PTF on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha for details.”

The NGF in its letter on Friday to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said: “Please refer to the above subject matter and to our teleconference meeting with the vice president on Wednesday, April 22.

 “Recall at that meeting it was agreed that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) articulates the issues that it would want to be included in the next presidential pronouncement on COVID-19 so as to have a uniform and coordinated policy on COVID-19 at both the national and sub-national levels.

“Subject to Mr. President’s approval, the NGF would want the following incorporated into Mr. President’s pronouncements: inter-state lockdown excluding movement of essential supplies foods, beverages, medical and pharmaceuticals, petroleum supplies and agricultural products:

 “Internal free movement but with restrictions on large gatherings and assemblies; overnight curfews, the lockdown of flights: and compulsory use of face masks/ coverings in the public.

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Ilesanmi Adekanbi

Ilesanmi Adekanbi is a Journalist by profession. He has been working in the Nigeria media industry for the past 6 years. He holds several professional certificates. contact me on email: [email protected]

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