After four weeks since Nigeria’s first case of the novel coronavirus disease. (COVID-19) was recorded, President Muhammadu Buhari finally addressed the nation on Sunday.
During his national address, the president explained the country’s strategy for curbing the virus and ordered some policy responses to curb its spread.
Here are five things we learnt from Buhari’s speech:
LOCKDOWN LAGOS, ABUJA, AND OGUN
Speaking on state TV, the president said “based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020”.
“This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States. All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.
“We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.“This order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in healthcare-related manufacturing and distribution.”
STIPEND FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE
The president also said, “for the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately”.
“We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need.
“As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall continue planning for all eventualities.”
TWO MONTH FOOD SUPPLY FOR IDPs
Buhari also said food items will be distributed to internally displaced persons for two months.
“Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks,” the president said. He expressed gratitude to the private sector for standing up to the challenge.
“We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the private sector and individuals to the response as well as our development partners.
“At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.”
SUSPENSION OF LOAN REPAYMENT TO FG
Buhari, who said COVID-19 is a health and economic challenge, ordered the suspension of repayment of federal government loans for three months.
“I have directed that a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.
“I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank.
“For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.”
CONVERT ALL FG STADIUMS TO ISOLATION CENTRES
As far as isolation goes, the president “directed that all Federal Government Stadiums, Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation centres and makeshift hospitals”.
“My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We remain committed to doing whatever it takes to confront COVID-19 in our country.”
NO MOVEMENT OF PRIVATE JETS
The president also announced that the “movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a needs basis.
“We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.”
JOURNALISTS AND OTHER EXEMPTIONS
There were a few exemptions to most of the president’s orders on shutdowns. According to him, “commercial establishments such as; food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities, power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies are also exempted. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.”