Buhari’s Broadcast Belated, Say Afenifere, PANDEF

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and its Niger Delta counterpart, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), have given a hard knock to last Sunday evening broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari on the menace of COVID-19 pandemic.

The two groups in separate reactions yesterday flayed the delay in the presidential address more than two months after the outbreak of the epidemic in the country, saying the broadcast was belated.

Afenifere, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, while noting the ‘overdue presidential broadcast on COVID-19’, stressed that “we honestly cannot fathom why it took so long for such to come as the only thing new in it was locking down Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.

“The rest of the broadcast are about washing hands and sneezing on elbows and handkerchiefs which can only still be useful to the senator removing his face mask to sneeze for the consumption of his colleagues at this point.”

The group wondered why enough time was not given by the government to residents of Lagos and Ogun States as well as Abuja before the lockdown became effective.

It said: “While we agree that a lockdown is necessary at this point, it should not have been done as if we were shutting down a barracks under 24 hours. The people should have been given a few days’ notice before now so that they could get themselves prepared for a shutdown.

“It is also a big shame that a rich country like Nigeria has been badly run over the years and up till the time, Nigeria cannot afford any serious stimulus package for its citizens beyond moratorium for NPower earners.”

Afenifere also wondered why “the president was asking the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to go and get students to be fed with School Feeding Programme when all students in the country are at home.”

The group nevertheless encouraged Nigerians to cooperate with government to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

On its part, PANDEF agreed that there was nothing new in the presidential broadcast.

PANDEF Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), told THISDAY on telephone that the ‘belated’ broadcast by President Buhari did not address anything new about coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “The broadcast came rather very late more than two months after the first incident was recorded in the country on February 27.”

Nkanga also said most of the things highlighted in the president’s speech had long been taken care of by some state governors who had before now rolled out a lot of programmes to address the pandemic.

According to him, “What Nigerians had expected from the president in this trying times was not an address but leadership and encouragement, and I can say that in the aspect of leadership, which the people needed, the President failed in that regard.”

PANDEF, he further said, saluted the state governors who rose up to the occasion timely on the issue of the global disease, “and we urge them to do more to save lives of the citizenry.

“We will also like to commend the medical personnel for their desperation in fighting the pandemic while not leaving out the individuals and corporate bodies that have donated money and medical materials towards tackling the COVID-19,” Nkanga noted.