Like we predicted in our earlier story where we stated that the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari may have grown wearied with the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and may most likely pass the baton over to the state governors across the 36 states to take responsibility, The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Boss Mustapha said earlier today that they have the approval of President Buhari, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to push the battle to contain Coronavirus to states and communities.
Mustapha and members of the PTF who spoke at the regular media briefing of the task force said the federal government will henceforth only provide supervision and coordination. Recall that the team visited the President on Sunday at the State House, Abuja to provide him with an update that would enable him take decision and give further directive. At that briefing were the 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 Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.
But speaking at the PTF briefing earlier today in Abuja having received approval from Buhari, Mustapha was emphatic. He 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 have 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 subnational, 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 stated that 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. He also explained that the PTF’s advice on the reopening of the economy and worship centres had been delivered to President Muhammadu Buhari who will take the decision likely to be communicated to Nigerians.