Prominent civil rights advocacy body Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called out President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s failure to activate a workable strategy to contain, combat and flatten the curves of the National COVID-19 infection rate in Nigeria.
HURIWA said President Muhammadu Buhari and his “Politically tainted Presidential Task Force on Covid-19” are adopting a ‘Wait and See’ unscientific methodology on the ravaging CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA, rather than mobilize the scientific community in Nigeria to work out and implement methodologies that meet global best practices as are adopted in civilized nations of Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Australia and South Korea.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Rights group has also warned against hurried reopening of public and private educational Schools even before any identifiable benchmarks to guide against widening spectre of Covid-19 infections are met, just as the Rights group has tasked President Buhari to utilize the over $4.5 Billion dollars World Bank and International Monetary Funds loans recently obtained for Covid-19 to construct world class tertiary health facilities each in the six geopolitical zones of the country and to connect all the public schools in Nigeria to clean sources of water for the benefits of millions of the students and teachers to contain the spread Covid-19.
According to him, “Generation unborn will never forgive this government should it fritter on frivolities the huge indebtedness it has incurred from global funding institutions in the name of fighting Covid-19 disease in Nigeria without building World class hospitals nor procure medical facilities and protection tools for frontline medical staff who as we speak, have only just returned from a nationwide strike due to the failure of government to pay their hazards allowances.
“We have watched With considerable disappointment, the total absence of any sort of unified National anti-Covid-19 Strategy since the coronavirus pandemic spread into Nigeria about three Months ago, just as the Rights group has asked the federal government to disband the presidential Task Force on Covid-19 for spectacularly failing to achieve any significant milestones in the area of efficient containment. “Why keep a team that has failed to achieve tangible results?”
The Rights group has blamed the Nigerian government for abandoning local medical research institutes which could have been deployed to search for home made remedies to the coronavirus pandemic. The Rights group said President Muhammadu Buhari’s over reliance on foreign money to combat Covid-19 disease in Nigeria is belittling and has presented the Country in terrible shape thereby consigning Nigeria to the backyard of international relevance.
“Imagine that the health minister told Nigerians that the country was awaiting foreign Grant before the relevant agencies can analytically research into the efficacy of the recently obtained Covid-19 organics from Madagascar just as the Rights group wondered if Nigeria has become a failed state that relies entirely on Grants.
HURIWA, recalled that the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had on April 28, 2020 approved US$3.4 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices.
HURIWA recalled that the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Nigeria’s request for emergency financial assistance of SDR 2,454.5 million (US$ 3.4 billion, 100 percent of quota) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HURIWA recalled that the IMF gave reason for assisting Nigeria with huge funds to battle COVID-19 as follows: “The near-term economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be severe, while already high downside risks have increased. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, Nigeria’s economy was facing headwinds from rising external vulnerabilities and falling per capita GDP levels. The pandemic—along with the sharp fall in oil prices—has magnified the vulnerabilities, leading to a historic decline in growth and large financing needs.
“The IMF financial support will help limit the decline in international reserves and provide financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases aimed at containing and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and of the sharp fall in international oil prices.”
HURIWA stated further that Nigeria at the time it got the $3.4billion loan for Covid-19 loan was close to securing a loan of $1.5 billion and another $1-1.5 billion for the Federal Government and states respectively. The fund is being sourced from the World Bank, this is according to information from Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed.
HURIWA, has therefore asked President Muhammadu Buhari to tell Nigerians in black and White what these huge cash obtained to fight Covid-19 have been used for, given that the state of health infrastructure is in shambles.