By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Former Executive Governor, Sokoto State, Alh. (Dr) Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa (Garkuwan Sokoto) hasdescribedthe money expended on curbing the spread of the deadly CoronaVirus as a waste of resources, arguing that such should be channeled into protection of lives and property from insecurity
Bafarawa expressed this at a press conference held in Abuja on Wednesday January 20, 2021.
According to him, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 rather than lan to use billions of dollars in importing the newly discovered vaccines, should adopt other measures.
Read the full text of the briefing below:
PRESS BRIEFGENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS
In consideration of the International Concern for the spread of thepandemic popularly known as coronavirus which has hit the world with violent ferocity killing hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, the Nigerian government answered the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) when the body considered the dreaded disease as an interational emergency concern.
Like any other country across the globe, Nigeria sometime in March 2020, quickly put in place a committee known as Presidential Task Force headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
From then on the task force has been doing what it is supposed to be doing based on the terms of reference the government has mandated it to work on.
It should however be remembered that mainly the committee works incollaboration with other agencies established to also fight the dreaded disease.
The committee is supposed to order for basic health measures bordering on hygiene, washing of hands, wearing of face masks, social distancing, closure ofschools including tertiary Institutions, airports and host of other measures.
Indeed the task force still deals mainly with such measures. But come to think of it! Within the period under review, which is about 9 months period now, not even up to one year, a whooping sum of N3.5 billion is said to have been spent.
This is without funding for research or other related efforts on drugs purchase or drug research findings for their manufacture.
It should also be noted that more and more funding or expenditure from the vanous tiers of government and from some international organizations arereadily being solicited and awaited inorder to pump into the corona-virus project.
It seems that the project is becoming a serious economic loss and that it seems also that Nigerian government is clearly oblivious of the fact that this venture isbecoming lucrative for some people.
Considering the facts and figures on the ground the CoronaVirus issues and other similar related diseases which are generally considered pandemic or endemic as the case may be are gettingmore attention in African countries and in Nigeria in particular because of their international out look or concern inorder to create the political impression to theIntematonal community that Nigeria is committed to such a cause.
Considering the attention that Nigeria is giving to the issue of COVID-19 is to say the least getting out of proportion to the extent that other important key areas of our socio-economic development and prosperily are relegated to thebackground.
Even the challenges being posed by our educational system, economic and agricultural activities as well as most importantly security of ourcountry are being severely affected.
It appears that the main focus of the federal government is completely shifted to the issue of CoronaVirus not minding the insecurity issue which is affecting the country for close to a decade now.
It should be noted that I am not underplaying the effect of the pandemic across the world in general and Nigeria in particular. It may not be logical to say thatcoronavirus’ effect is not disturbing But it is possible to infer that the security of lives and properties of the people of Nigeria do not matter much in comparison to the attention that is being given to the COVID-19. It is everybody’sguess that every aspect of human lives or activities would be completely paralyzed.
It is against the backdrop of this kind of unprecedented development in the country, that I had a cause, late last year to lead a team of concerned andwell-meaning Nigerians to visit the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Gbajabiamila in order to express our deep concerns over the secunity situation of the country and to seek for his concern over thepayment of compensation to the victims of these atrocities.
I presented a document to him which contains the needed data of nearly all the victims of the
people affected by the atrocities of not only Boko Haram but also of the victims of banditry and kidnapping which took place across the entire Northern part of the country.
During the meeting, I had a genuine cause to draw the attention ofthe Rt Hon Speaker that there is alarming rate of killings and destruction of properties and that without adequate security there would not be peace and without peace, there would not be any development
We should make it clear to ourselves that as we are addressing this press conference, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are not living withintheir ancestral domains they have left their homes, their farmlands their livestock for those who were lucky to have some left, many of their livestock have been stolen, maraudered or rustled away by the bandits or the insurgentsIt is therefore supposed to be our collective responsibility to make it known to the government so that more strict measures are put in place to curb the menace this insecurty is causing to our social existence.
We should be pragmatic in ensuring that this issue is taken with seriousness it deserves sothat Nigeria will not collapse under our core.
A situation where scores of people could be slaughtered like animals in the most barbaric manner certainly calls for some people, especially the government to do something about it.
The recent killing or brutality in its naked form in Borno State certainly calls for sober reflection and mourning. The security of lives and properties is supreme theworld over. Federal Government of Nigeria should prepare to place security matter on state of emergency just like what the World Health Organization did on CoronaVirus in 2019 when the effect was being felt across the world.
It is my advice though that the Federal Govemment should pay even more attention to the issue of insecurity in the country and the North in particular, instead of emphasizing and spending huge surn of money on coronavirus.
it is recently projected that more than N140bn is needed by the task force committee to acquire the newly discovered COVID-19 vaccines despite the said N13.5bn that was spent on only measures to mitigate the spread of the virus inthe country.
Should this trend be allowed to continue, we would have situation where the lives and properties of Nigerians are being made less valuable which is even more disturbing. We should bear it in mind that so far, only approximately about 2,000 people are said to have died from 2019 to date since the said virus was said to be here in Nigeria.
The throats and acts of armed banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other forms of arson being perpetrated in our region and Nigeria in general is to say the least, taking an unnecessary dimension to the level that no sane Society would watch and perhaps wrap up everything in the hands of the government.
Everyone of us as members of the society should bear it in mind that while the government does what it is supposed to be doing, we should also be seen to contribute our quota towards achieving the desired goals of ridding our societyof these acts of barbarism.
We should as well resolve that, we could use any legitimate means through interaction, in the forms of meetings, workshops, seminars, conferences, and any other means possible to identify areas whichmost negatively border on insecurity issue and reach out to the government or its agencies for the purpose of generating ideas on how best the governmentcould bring to an end these atrocities.
More ways of achieving the neededresults could be created and channeled to the appropriate authorities for taking immediate measuros.
Like Britain which has seen the emergence of another strain or variant of CoronaVirus and its order to shut the doors for entry into its country in order to curtail the spread of the diseases, the Nigerian government should as well also put more measures in place in order to deal with these two phenomena; corona-virus and insecunity with a lot of seriousness and commitment theydeserve.
Another area of great concern which the government has to ensure that it deals with is the issue of sensitization and intensified great campaigns sothat in the event that the said vaccines are acquired with large sums of money, they are not wasted.
For example, from traditional point of view and judging from the nature of Nigerians, especially some of our largely illiterate society they hardly become receptive to newly introduced medical recipes or drugs in the first place, there is a large segment of Nigerian society which does not even believe the disease self is a really or exists in the first place.
These are some of the issues that the Federal Government should pay more attention to so that the exercise becomes fruitful and successful
I would further advise or suggest that while the government continues to do the best under the circumstance, which are essentially between life and death, more resources should equally be channeled to the issue of insecurity so that our country would continue to be more and more secured for greater prosperity and highest sense of belonging and direction within the comity of nations
In conclusion, I use this opportunity to appeal to Mr. President, to as a
mattor of urgency continue to show great concern to the issue of security so that Nigerians would begin to have the needed peace of mind hoping to start to experience growth and prosperity in the country.
ALH. (DR) ATTAHIRU DALHATU BAFARAWA(Garkuwan Sokoto)Former Executive Governor, Sokoto State.