- COVID-19: Buhari Addresses Nigerians, Full Transcript
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday addressed Nigerians on the state nation and measures being taken by the federal government to curb the spread of Coronavirus and sustain economic activities.
Below is the complete transcript.
1. Fellow Nigerians
2. In my address on Sunday, 29th March 2020, I asked the residents of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory to stay at home for an initial period of fourteen days starting from Monday, 30th March 2020.
3. Many State Governments also introduced similar restrictions.
4. As your democratically elected leaders, we made this very difficult decision knowing fully well it will severely disrupt your livelihoods and bring undue hardship to you, your loved ones and your communities.
5. However, such sacrifices are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country. They were necessary to save lives.
6. Our objective was, and still remains, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action.
7. The level of compliance to the COVID-19 guidelines issued has been generally good across the country. I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the great sacrifice you are making for each other at this critical time.
8. I will take this opportunity to recognise the massive support from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during this pandemic.
9. I also acknowledge the support and contributions received from public-spirited individuals, the business community and our international partners and friends.
10. I must also thank the media houses, celebrities and other public figures for the great work they are doing in sensitizing our citizens on hygienic practices, social distancing and issues associated with social gatherings.
11. As a result of the overwhelming support and cooperation received, we were able to achieve a lot during these 14 days of initial lockdown.
12. We implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified our case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities.
13. To date, we have identified 92% of all identified contacts while doubling the number of testing laboratories in the country and raising our testing capacity to 1,500 tests per day.
14. We also trained over 7,000 Healthcare workers on infection prevention and control while deploying NCDC teams to 19 states of the federation.
15. Lagos and Abuja today have the capacity to admit some 1,000 patients each across several treatment centres.
16. Many State Governments have also made provisions for isolation wards and treatment centres. We will also build similar centres near our airports and land borders.
17. Using our resources and those provided through donations, we will adequately equip and man these centres in the coming weeks. Already, health care workers across all the treatment centres have been provided with the personal protective equipment that they need to safely carry out the care they provide.
18. Our hope and prayers are that we do not have to use all these centres. But we will be ready for all eventualities.
19. At this point, I must recognise the incredible work being done by our healthcare workers and volunteers across the country especially in frontline areas of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
20. You are our heroes and as a nation, we will forever remain grateful for your sacrifice during this very difficult time. More measures to motivate our health care workers are being introduced which we will announce in the coming weeks.
21. As a nation, we are on the right track to win the fight against COVID-19.
22. However, I remain concerned about the increase in numbers of confirmed cases and deaths being reported across the world and in Nigeria specifically.
23. On 30th March 2020, when we started our lockdown in conforming with medical and scientific advice, the total number of confirmed cases across the world was over 780,000.
24. Yesterday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally was over one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand. This figure is more than double in two weeks!
25. In the last fourteen days alone, over 70,000 people have died due to this disease.
26. In the same period, we have seen the health system of even the most developed nations being overwhelmed by this virus.
27. Here in Nigeria, we had 131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 12 States on 30th March 2020. We had two fatalities then.
28. This morning, Nigeria had 323 confirmed cases in twenty States. Unfortunately, we now have ten fatalities. Lagos State remains the centre and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria. When combined with the FCT, the two locations represent over 71% of the confirmed cases in Nigeria.
29. Most of our efforts will continue to focus in these two locations.
30. Majority of the confirmed cases in Lagos and the FCT are individuals with recent international travel history or those that came into contact with returnees from international trips.
31. By closing our airports and land borders and putting strict conditions for seaport activities, we have reduced the impact of external factors on our country. However, the increase in the number of States with positive cases is alarming.
32. The National Centre for Disease Control has informed me that, a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities, through person-to-person contacts. So we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person.
33. At this point, I will remind all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility for the recommended measures to prevent transmission, including maintaining physical distancing, good personal hygiene and staying at home.
34. In addition, I have signed the Quarantine Order in this regard and additional regulations to provide clarity in respect of the control measures for the COVID-19 pandemic which will be released soon.
35. The public health response to COVID-19 is built on our ability to detect, test and admit cases as well as trace all their contacts. While I note some appreciable progress, we can achieve a lot more.
36. Today, the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective way of reducing the transmission of the virus. By sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, we can take control and limit the spread of the disease.
37. Our approach to the virus remains in 2 steps – First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners.
38. With this in mind and having carefully considered the briefings and Report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020. I am therefore once again asking you all to work with Government in this fight.
39. This is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. Mosques in Makkah and Madina have been closed. The Pope celebrated Mass on an empty St. Peter’s Square. The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held Easter Mass with less than 10 people. India, Italy and France are in complete lockdown. Other countries are in the process of following suit. We cannot be lax.
40. The previously issued guidelines on exempted services shall remain.
41. This is a difficult decision to take, but I am convinced that this is the right decision. The evidence is clear.
42. The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable.
43. We must not lose the gains achieved thus far. We must not allow a rapid increase in community transmission. We must endure a little longer.
44. I will, therefore, take this opportunity to urge you all to notify the relevant authorities if you or your loved ones develop any symptoms. I will also ask our health care professionals to redouble their efforts to identify all suspected cases, bring them into care and prevent transmission to others.
45. No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy. I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, day-workers, artisans and manual workers.
46. For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and about seeking work. But despite these realities, we must not change the restrictions.
47. In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained.
48. I have also directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programs. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week.
49. The Security Agencies have risen to the challenges posed by this unprecedented situation with gallantry and I commend them. I urge them to continue to maintain utmost vigilance, firmness as well as restraint in enforcing the restriction orders while not neglecting statutory security responsibilities.
50. Fellow Nigerians, follow the instructions on social distancing. The irresponsibility of the few can lead to the death of the many. Your freedom ends where other people’s rights begin.
51. The response of our State Governors has been particularly impressive, especially in aligning their policies and actions to those of the Federal Government.
52. In the coming weeks, I want to assure you that the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force, will do whatever it takes to support you in this very difficult period. I have no doubt that, by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic.
53. I must also thank the Legislative arm of Government for all its support and donations in this very difficult period. This collaboration is critical to the short and long-term success of all the measures that we have instituted in response to the pandemic.
54. As a result of this pandemic, the world as we know it has changed. The way we interact with each other, conduct our businesses and trade, travel, educate our children and earn our livelihoods will be different.
55. To ensure our economy adapts to this new reality, I am directing the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works and Housing, Labour and Employment and Education to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a “Nigerian economy functioning with COVID-19”.
56. The Ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee in executing this mandate.
57. I am also directing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice-Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to work with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized.
58. Finally, I want to thank the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for all their hard work so far. Indeed, the patriotism shown in your work is exemplary and highly commendable.
59. Fellow Nigerians, I have no doubt that by working together and carefully following the rules, we shall get over this pandemic and emerge stronger in the end.
60. I thank you all for listening and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
US Congress Puts On Hold Proposed Arms Sales, Pressures Biden to Reassess US-Nigeria Relations Over Human Rights Record
United States lawmakers have begun to mount pressure on President Joe Biden over concerns about Nigeria’s human rights records.
Already, a proposed sale of 12 attack aircraft and 28 helicopter engines worth $857 million has been put on hold.
Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy, a US-based magazine.
It said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrated a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
It said the hold on the sale also showcased how powerfully the US lawmakers wanted to push the Biden administration to rethink the country’s relations with Africa’s most populous nation amid overarching concerns that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was drifting towards authoritarianism as his government has been besieged by multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency.
Foreign policy observed that Western governments and international human rights organisations had ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly, in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have therefore placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then former US Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has relied on US arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges, including the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s North-west, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.
The State Department, it was said, described the US-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and had provided limited funding for various military training and education programmes.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it could make a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military was doing enough to minimise civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
Continuing, he added, “But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail. There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organisations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now. The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”
Nigerian Embassy in Washington did not, however, return a request for comment, foreign policy claimed.
In the past, the Nigerian military had dismissed reports of human rights abuses by its soldiers as baseless and accused human rights groups of undermining the military’s resolve to combat terrorism.
But the United States had scrubbed proposed arms sales to Nigeria in the past on a case-by-case basis.
Former US President Barack Obama’s administration cut back arms sales to Nigeria over concerns about civilian casualties and human rights abuses, including blocking a 2014 sale of Cobra helicopters by Israel to Nigeria.
During that time, US officials reportedly voiced concerns that Boko Haram had infiltrated the Nigerian military—an accusation that provoked indignation from the Nigerian government.
These moves severely strained US-Nigeria relations, with Buhari accusing Obama of having unintentionally “aided and abetted” extremist groups by refusing to expand military cooperation and arms sales.
In late 2017, then US President Donald Trump’s administration agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January.
Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.
INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.
Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.
These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.
The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.
The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.
According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.
The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712
The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.
Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.
Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.
“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.
“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.
“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”
Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.
Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs
Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.
The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.
He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.
Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.
Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.
“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.
“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.
“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.
“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.
“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.
“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.
“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.
“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.
“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.
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