Buhari’s Broadcast On COVID-19 Lacks Critical Leadership Understanding Of Issues – PDP, Others

*Niger’s President, Muhammadu Buhari apparently angered people with his style of governance

The second national broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari’s regarding the handling of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by the government of Nigeria has angered a lot of interests. As a matter of fact, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) have rubbished Buhari’s broadcast. They insist it failed to address pressing needs of Nigeria and Nigerians, which is unacceptable.

Buhari had in the broadcast of yesterday Monday April 13, 2020 when the first lockdown order, which started on March 30, 2020 ended, also extended the lockdown placed on Lagos State, which is the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria; Ogun State as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The president, who said he was guided to extend the lockdown by informed advise of scientists and medical experts said social distancing, which the country achieved through the lockdown order remains on of the very effective ways of stemming the spread of the disease, which for now have no known cure. The lockdown therefore was extended for another 14 days.

Even though Buhari’s speech had directed the expansion of the current social register from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million in the next phase of the lockdown, the PDP, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, described the speech as “disappointing” adding that it failed to address palliatives. The party said the speech, just like pre-recorded broadcast of March 29, 2020, failed to address salient issues of urgent concern to Nigerians in their daily struggle against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The party said the president “again failed to show leadership and displayed total lack of touch with reality as he failed to give any hope on palliatives to the ordinary Nigerians as they face hunger and economic pangs of the lockdown. The PDP statement added, “It is more painful that President Buhari could not address the immediate needs of the people or provide a trajectory that will take care of their future. Instead, Mr. President bored our nation with a rehash of global data already known to Nigerians in addition to promises that are far-flung departures from the harsh realities on the ground.

“Nigerians expected Mr. President to directly address the established failures of his palliatives distribution, particularly the provision of funds to the poorest of the poor, which has been marred by allegations of corruption and diversion of funds. This is in addition to allegations of diversion of rice and other food items meant for the poor masses. Can Mr. President claim not to be aware that not a handful of Nigerians have received any palliatives and that huge majority of our citizens are complaining that they have not been reached with any panacea despite his administration’s claim of having reached 2.6 million household?

“Announcing the expansion of the palliative scope to 3.6 million households without addressing the failure of the scheme and with no parameter to showcase the declared expansion is an encouragement of the corrupt system that has been depriving Nigerians,” Ologbondiyan argued.

They want the president and his team to disprove Nigerians by publishing documents showing the beneficiaries of the claimed 2.6 million household social intervention, the benefiting communities as well as the parameters that will be deployed for the additional one million household. Our party holds that what have been witnessed in the last two weeks is a total incapacity and fraud by those he has currently charged with the responsibility of taking palliatives to the people.

“Already, there are serious agitations and unrests in Lagos, Ogun and some parts of the FCT where Nigerians, who earn their means of livelihood on daily basis and who have been locked out from their means of subsistence and can no longer withstand the pangs of hunger, are becoming restless. Our party still believes that Mr. President needs to quickly retool his approach and adopt an all-encompassing model that will take care of the hunger and deprivations, which this lockdown has imposed on Nigerians.

“President Buhari should be forthcoming on what palliatives are accruable, in the immediate, to each state of the federation in this national fight against the pandemic. This is because, given our peculiar federal system, we still insist that the fastest approach to reach the people is through the state and local governments using methods like traditional institutions, community leadership and faith based organizations,” the PDP spokesperson said.

Just as the PDP is stroking the Buhari government, the PRP said the president showed lack of understanding of ineffectiveness and futility of the lockdown. The party, in a statement by its national chairman, Mr. Falalu Bello, described the extension of the lockdown as unrealistic, insensitive and disappointing. According to him, Nigeria’s COVID-19 response strategy with terms such as aggressive enforcement of total lockdown, flattening of the curve, contact tracing, self-isolation though good on paper was drawn in total disregard to Nigeria’s environment and circumstances.

He said a complete lockdown might be useful and effective in developed economies and societies such as Europe and North America but in Nigeria where infrastructure such as housing, public transportation, sanitation and water supply are at best in rudimentary stages, a wholesale copy of the lockdown template as a strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic by Nigeria is as good as playing the ostrich.

The statement added, “Self-Isolation as another example in most of our houses in our towns and cities where tens of families stay in a house with only a toilet and tap, is neither possible nor practicable. COVID-19 strategy sold to our president and his governors is alien to our circumstances, not practicable nor sustainable and should be urgently jettisoned. From his statement, the President appears not to understand and appreciate the futility and ineffectiveness of lockdown as a panacea to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in an economic and social environment such as ours,” he said.

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