COVID-19: HURIWA Canvases Dismissal of Health Ministers, Dissolution of PTF/NCDC

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health

Following the continuous spike and upward swing in the numbers of people afflicted with the COVID-19 ailment in Nigeria, despite the existence of both the Federal Ministry of Health with two full cabinet level appointees; the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 (PTF) headed by the chief scribe of the central government and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a clarion call has gone to President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the ministers of health and to reconstitute both the Presidential task Force on Covid-19 and the Nigerian Centre for Disease (NCDC), to bring in much more competent professionals to drive the process of bringing down the infection rates; ramp up testing capacity of the Country and to begin the comprehensive overhaul of the tertiary health infrastructures across the six geopolitical Zones of Nigeria.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) said Countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia amongst others that have structures for combating the spread of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC in their nations have recorded tremendous milestones in bringing down the curves and in ramping up the testing capacities of the Countries, in addition to the giant strides made in the fields of scientific research on possible cure and development of functional vaccines to combat the respiratory problems caused by COVID-19, stating that in Nigeria however, the bodies set up to drive the process of combating COVID-19 AILMENT are more interested in spreading fear, panic and alarm and have “done nothing to improve and scale up the capacities of the Federal and state governments to battle the scourge of COVID-19”.

 “The clear majority of Nigerians have lost hope and faith in these PTF/NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigerians are doubting their sincerity of purpose. Were they appointed to solve the problem of COVID-19 or were they enlisted to spread fear and tensions? In Nigeria even the MADAGASCAR’S ORGANICS DONATED TO NIGERIA HAVE DISAPPEARED WITHOUT TRACE”, HURIWA said.

In a media statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf after an emergency board of Trustees’ parley in Maitama District of the nation’s capital of Abuja, HURIWA, said that by their own admissions, the ministers of health, the Presidential task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have spectacularly failed to discharges their operational mandates despite the fact that the nation had had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund to collect a COVID-19 LOAN package of the princely sum of $3.5 billion USD and has raised over N20 billion internally from donors and corporate bodies.

HURIWA stressed that the most logical thing to do is to “sack these non performing Nigerians so as to bring in much more dedicated, competent and honest Professionals who would work and would not just be transactional and are only focused on ramping up the false alarm rates of reeling out unverifiable figures to frighten the populace and to collect more money from the public treasury.

“HURIWA just like Nigerians is embarrassed to keep reading from the Federal Ministry of Health which says unabashedly that the increasing number of coronavirus infections in the country should be a warning that the fatality rate could rise. Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, gave the warning at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 in the country on Thursday in Abuja”.

Only on June 11th the Federal Government had also raised alarm over rising cases of COVID-19 with spike in the number of confirmed cases, where number of recorded cases jumped to 663 on Tuesday just as Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said Nigeria witnessed a spike in number of confirmed cases when the number of recorded cases jumped to 663 on June 9 and this number is a source of concern to the PTF.

“HURIWA, is shocked that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had on June 8th raised alarm that state governments and Nigerians were not cooperating with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on testing for COVID-19. Speaking at the investigative hearing organised by the committee yesterday, the Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekwazu, decried the refusal of Nigerians to show up for testing and sought the assistance of members of the House to educate Nigerians on the need to submit themselves for testing. He said:  “It is unfortunate that state governments are not cooperating with us on the issue of testing. Many Nigerians are also not coming forward to be tested. We are pleading with lawmakers to help the PTF talk to people in the grassroots to come forward for testing.”

HURIWA further said that, “It is shocked that these appointees of government who should combat the spread of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA are the same persons spreading ignorance and fear and are busy stating that nobody knew how long the pandemic would last just as Dr Ihekweazu said the pandemic was currently at community transmission level just as he lamented that Nigeria had so far carried out “about 100,000 test, even though it has the capacity to carry out over 200,000 test per day at the moment.”

HURIWA which condemned these officials for not achieving success but only spread pandemonium, also recalled that on his part, chairman of the PTF and Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said coronavirus was still a very dangerous disease which was spreading fast and killing people.

In the considered position of the Rights group, “since the Presidential task Force on Covid-19 put in place by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with all the powers is still complaining that law enforcement agencies are not enforcing the inter-state travel restrictions and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control set up by national law lacks the necessary mechanisms to win the trust of all the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja to carry out a unified approach towards combating COVID-19,  the best step is to dissolve these failed entities and appoint fresh hands who will not play politics with the mandates of their offices but would use law based measures to check the widening spread of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA”.

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