Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Director-General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Mr. Salihu Lukman, has berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, for condemning the measures announced by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the spread of COVID-19, saying the statement credited to them were aimed at undermining initiatives of the government.
The PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiya, described the president’s speech as “empty and failed to address the salient demands of the impact of the scourge (of COVID-19) on the country,” while Adegboruwa also condemned some of the measures announced by the president, which included restriction of movements in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States as illegal, arguing that the president has not invoked his powers under the constitution to declare any state of emergency, which must be approved by the National Assembly.
Lukman in a statement issued yesterday said both PDP and Adegboruwa appeared to be setting the government up for failure in a way that would cost the lives of many citizens, which might include some that may unfortunately become infected with COVID-19.
The director-general of the forum said clearly, these responses completely ignored the gravity of the challenges and imagined that the problems could be reduced to politics and legal arguments.
He stressed that after all the hue and cry on the slow responses from the government in taking measures to protect citizens against the spread of the virus in the country, one would have expected some attempt to direct attention in the country to strengthen the capacity of the government to succeed in containing the spread of the virus.
Lukman said could PDP be arguing that there are other more effective measures to contain the spread of the virus, which the president has failed to take? Or could Adegboruwa be implying that there are legal provisions that could be invoked that would ensure containment of the spread of the virus while at the same time respecting the rights of citizens to move freely?
According to him, “Why should we, as Nigerians, be so unfair to ourselves and our leaders to the extent that it would appear we have lost sight of the fact that to be rational and logical is first and foremost to ensure the protection of life? Once human life is at risk, we must take every step required to safeguard it.
He noted that with almost daily ministerial briefing by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and his team, the recent speech by the president should have given Nigerians the needed confidence to strengthen their belief on the commitment of the government to fight and contain COVID-19.
Lukman said: “Instead, what we have is distrust and commitment to undermine initiatives of the government. This would appear to be setting us up for failure in a way that will cost the lives of many citizens, which may include some of us who may unfortunately become infected by COVID-19.”
The forum DG stressed further that without any hesitation, it could be argued that PDP governors are not playing politics with the challenge of fighting COVID-19 in the country, adding that everyone was encouraged by the inspiring leadership of Atiku Abubakar and PDP governors for rising to the national challenge of teaming up with all Nigerians irrespective of party lines.