President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate closure of international airports and land borders for four weeks.
This is just as he directed that all Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments are to return immediately.
In a statement by his Special Assistant Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, the President directs “The immediate release of a 10 billion Naira grant to Lagos State, which remains the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Nigeria. This grant will enable Lagos to increase its capacity to control and contain the outbreak, while also supporting other States with capacity-building.
“The immediate release of a 5 billion Naira special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.
“The Nigerian Air Force is already making its fleet available to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, to enable a better coordinated and more effective response across the country,” the president said.
Buhari added that “To protect our homeland from external exposure, I directed the immediate closure of our International Airports and Land Borders for four weeks in the first instance, to enable us to put up the appropriate policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases at home, without risking a compounding of the situation with more imported cases.
“The inconvenience caused by these flight and travel restrictions to our fellow citizens abroad who want to return home is regrettable, but it is necessary for the greater good, and I thank you all for your understanding and cooperation.
“I have also directed that only cargo vessels that have been at sea for more than 14 days be allowed to dock in our ports after the crew have been tested and confirmed disease-free by the Port Health Authorities.
“This 14-day restriction, however, does not apply to vessels carrying oil and gas products as by their nature, there is minimal human contact.
“We have also suspended the movement of commuter trains to limit the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.
“I have directed the NCDC to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up our manpower as we respond to the pandemic.
“Furthermore, all NCDC staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments are to return immediately.
“Already the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is conducting an evacuation mission to bring back some of our specialists in Central Africa, to enable them to support the national response.
“I commend the monetary policy authorities for their financial intervention to support our entrepreneurs and companies as we go through this difficult time.
“We are also looking at fiscal measures to minimise the negative impact of this pandemic on the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.
“As you are aware we have begun the process of reviewing the federal budget. We shall communicate our fiscal interventions once the budget review process is concluded.
“In the meantime, I have directed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, to work with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), to ensure that all production of essential items such as food, medical and pharmaceutical products continues unhindered.
“We are engaging our international friends and partners to share knowledge and to seek their support in our response to the pandemic. We are grateful for the show of support thus far – we have already started receiving goods and supplies intended to help us scale up our efforts.
“Let me specially thank and commend all of the hard and heroic work being done by our medical personnel, the NCDC, Port Health Authorities, Security Agencies, State Governments, and all ad-hoc staff and volunteers.
“I urge all Nigerians to be mindful of those among us who seek to spread panic and misinformation and sow confusion at this time.
“We must all pay attention only to the relevant government agencies working day and night to make accurate and useful information available to the public.
“I will also ask all of us to strictly obey all public health guidelines and instructions issued by the Federal and State health authorities, regarding personal hygiene and social distancing.
“These guidelines will be updated from time to time as new information and treatments are obtained.
“In the meantime, I want to assure all Nigerians, that the Federal Government remains committed to protecting all Nigerians. We seek your full support and cooperation as we go through this very difficult time. Together we will triumph over this pandemic,” Buhari said.
BELOW US THE FULL STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENCY
COVID 19: STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE ON THURSDAY, 26TH MARCH, 2020
With developing news around the world and in Nigeria on the Coronavirus pandemic, President Buhari issues the following statement:
“I advise all Nigerians to follow to the letter the health guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Health and our State Governments.
“Wash your hands thoroughly many times throughout the day. Observe ‘social distancing’ of a minimum of two metres. Do not make unnecessary journeys outside of your homes. Do not attend public meetings or public gatherings – including religious events – which is where, through social contact, the virus can easily be transmitted.
“The Federal Ministry of Health will continue to issue daily updates on all developments. Please refer to public announcements by the Ministry on radio, television, www.health.gov.ng and Twitter at @Fmohnigeria.’’
With regard to the request by the government of Lagos State for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Lagos and Nigeria, the President has already approved the sum of N10 billion which release was effected within two days of the request.
The President has also approved and ensured the prompt release of N5 billion special intervention requested by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip and expand their facilities and laboratories.
In the the same vein, the President has given approval to NCDC’s request for an aircraft from the Presidential Air Fleet for emergency situations. He has furthermore authorized the evacuation of three critical members of the NCDC team who are stuck in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where they went for a training organsied by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
These measures are in addition to the ones approved and announced by the Presidential Task Force, PTF including the closure of land borders to human traffic for four weeks; the conversion of all Hajj transit camps to be utilized as COVID-19 isolation centers; the directive that all non-essential government employees to work from home and for a daily briefing of the nation through the PTF.
Other approved measures already put into place include the ban of flights from and into the country, suspension of the Federal Executive Council and National Council of State meetings and a directive for engagements, at the highest levels between the Federal Government and the state governments.
President Buhari has also directed for the escalation of the nation’s capacity for testing and detection with the acquisition of testing kits and establishment of additional test centers; acquisition of Personnel Protection Equipment and the mobilization of experts and trained staff serving and recall of some of those retired.
The closure of schools and tertiary institutions and the suspension of religious and other gatherings above the fifty prescribed number are also parts of the measures approved and are in place.
The President is keeping a close eye on international developments on the spread of COVID-19 and will intensify or introduce new measures if they become necessary to protect Nigerians.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
March 26, 2020