Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Twenty four hours to the end of the 14-day lockdown pronounced by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29, the president Saturday in Abuja appealed to Nigerians to remain at home in the interest of the entire country.
The president’s appeal as contained in a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, noted that in as much as there is no cure for COVID-19 yet, and the whole world is ravaged by the disease, complying with the instruction to stay at home has become compelling to avoid dire consequences.
According to the president, the government had the responsibility to enlighten its citizens “in this darkest hour,” noting that no other country will come to Nigeria’s aid in the efforts to win the war against COVID-19.
Although the president is yet to formally inform Nigerians of his intention to extend the current lockdown, this appeal coming 24 hours to the end of the initial 14 days of movement restriction in some areas, seems to be preparing the minds of citizens towards the continuity of the experience.
“All that the Government is asking you to endure is because nowhere in the world today is there any known way of defeating this pandemic.
“There is no vaccine. And that means there are choices to be made: between continuing as usual, or accepting the restrictions even when they come with unintended consequences.
“But at this darkest hour, it remains our duty to offer you the full and unvarnished truth: This is a global pandemic. 210 countries and territories across the globe are affected. We cannot expect others to come to our assistance. No one is coming to defeat this virus for us.
“Instead, the defeat of the virus in our country will be in our hands, alone. We cannot wait for others. We can only depend on ourselves now. And so we must – and we will – end this outbreak ourselves as Nigerians, together,” he said.
Furthermore, the president highlighted the inconveniences Nigerians had been going through as a result of the lockdown and also acknowledged the level of cooperation Nigerians have shown so far by promptly observing the restriction order.
However, he stated without any fear of equivocation that Nigerians should once more sustain the observance of the restriction that he placed on movement in Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ogun State a fortnight ago.
Buhari pledged the federal government’s preparedness to release 70,000 tonnes of grain from the National Strategic Grain Reserves, to cushion the effects of the lockdown particularly on the poor who survive mainly on daily wages.
He also appealed to Nigerians to observe rules spelt out by experts in the efforts to contain further spread of the malignant disease through various sensitisation campaigns in the media.
“We realize that today, there will be sons and daughters unable to visit their parents, and elders that are isolated from young ones. And there will be those who live day-to-day, eating as they earn, who face real and present suffering.
“No elected government could ask more of the citizens of the country that elected them than today we ask of you. But we must ask you – once more – to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place, and follow the instructions of our scientists and medical advisers: stay home, wash your hands, save lives.
“The freedoms we ask you to willingly forsake today will only last as long as our scientific advisers declare they are necessary. But they are essential – world over – to halt and defeat the spread of this virus.
“For those who suffer most egregiously, the Government has announced multiple measures to assist: 70,000 tonnes of grain is being released from the National Strategic Grain Reserves for distribution to those in most need; distribution of small cash payments are also being made, and will continue to be made by the federal government in the states and local government areas.
“We ask you to listen and follow public announcements via the mass media for instructions as to how to receive this government support – and learn of more public assistance in the coming days,” the president added.