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COVID-19 Management: Ibom Patriots Outlines Demands from PTF, FG

...Says Tests Centres Should be Established in All States



…Calls for Review of Cash Transfer

…Insists movement of Northerners under guise of Almajarai should cease

By Ekemini Simon

A Pan Akwa Ibom Socio-political organization, Ibom Patriots, has outlined its demands and recommendations from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Federal Government.



In a statement jointly signed by Chancellor of the organization, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen; the Secretary General, Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio; Dr. Okon Emah, Chairman (USD); Arc. Okon Obot Chairman (ISD) and Hon. Adasi Obolum, Chairman (ESD) and addressed to the Chairman of the PTF, they noted that driven by its public spirited pursuits and deep concern for continuous but accelerated improvement in the management/coordination of COVID-19 by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), they wish to proffer suggestions which the organisation believes will offer wider road for the countrt to drive to safety.



Ibom Patriots stated that it is their considered opinion that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should be unbundled.


The organization explained that dependence of States on NCDC for test results on the status of suspected patients/carrier slows appropriate action/treatment and endangers not only the concerned life but others, who may contract it from unidentified contact.



They recommended what they described as a dynamic policy of establishing Test Centres in each State of the federation and Abuja. The organisation pointed out that cities like Lagos and Abuja may need multi-centres, to sufficiently address rising needs.



The organisation called on the NCDC to in line with its envisaged unbundling, ensure that Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), replicated in each State of the Federation as Incident Management Committees (IMC) are up to speed for effective and efficient preparation, coordination, and management of response activities for public health events.



They said testing kits/materials should be readily available in all States.



Ibom Patriots pointed out that decentralization will lead to quicker testing and quicker results, adding that it will also ease possible conflicts between NCDC and states in the announcement of confrmed results for positive persons/carriers.



The Statement added “Where States and NCDC unnecessarily dispute figures of positive persons or not, it cast doubts and breeds suspicion on the reality of the pandemic which is totally unhealthy for the nation.”



The organisation called on the federal government to review the current method employed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) on the distribution of palliatives.



Ibom Patriots insisted that Palliatives and funds claimed to have been disbursed by the Ministry vis-a-vis the Social Development and the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) are disputed.



The statement added “And where statistics on the reported distribution exercises fall short of transparency; the entire process should be overhauled. We urge the Ministry and the Agency to establish functional offices in 774 local government areas for its registration and distribution schemes.



“This will offer them credible sources of reaching out to the people, particularly their target; the poorest of the poor.
Without exaggerating, billions of naira reportedly disbursed could have been sufficient to go round virtually every household in Nigeria if decentralization and utilization of the constitutionally known channels were involved in gathering of data/registration of beneficiaries and disbursement.”



The Organization canvassed for the establishment of acceptable digital dashboard derived through the convocation of all stakeholders from the established channels.



They said this will guarantee transparent payment process devoid of manipulations by vested interest stressing that current beneficiaries of the programme ‘mined” from the National Social Register (NSR), comprising State Register (NSR) of vulnerable households’ has been scandalous.



The statement noted “Government must be seen to be transparent and its conduct must meet the desires of Nigerians.”



Ibom Patriots said they have observed disturbing scenario during the lockdown and restriction of movements as persons under the guise of Almajarai were moved with ease in trucks around the country despite the interstate lockdown.



They said the suspicious aspect of the movements is that, whereas Almajarai are known to be children, majority of the persons conveyed around are able bodied men.



The statement added “States that dared to criticize the movements are tagged as enemies. This is not healthy, considering that lockdown is in force and centres of their exodus were reported to have suffered high rate of COVID-19.



“Besides, the movements coincided with the period the Nigerian Military is waging war against Boko Haram and other insurgents in the North. Could those moving around not be fleeing insurgents?



” A recent statement by Governor of Kano State suffices. Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje on May 22, 2020 directed security surveillance against infiltration of criminals and bandits from Kaduna to Kano. In issuing the directive to the State’s inter-state movement security committee, Governor Ganduje declared that Kano cannot afford to contain “floods of kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers and vanguards of religious extremism from Kaduna.”



” Are other states not endangered by these questionable movements during lockdown, going by the outburst of Governor Ganduje?”



The organisation said the PTF cum the Federal Government must ensure that the lockdown is effective and alleged complicity by Security agents should be investigated and offenders punished.



They also made a case for essential workers including medical doctors, healthcare professionals who are classified as front line workers, journalists/media workers and other personnel essential, saying that their continued harassment by security agents should be addressed urgently.



The organisation called for more transparency in the treatment of patients, urging NCDC to make public the process vis-à-vis the drugs used for treatment. This, they pointed out, will offer benefits to Medical Doctors and other front line healthcare practitioners.



While acknowledging efforts made by NCDC in the area of publicity and enlightenment of people on the virus, Ibom Patriots urged the body to take Nigeria’s plurality into consideration in their awareness and enlightenment campaigns, adding that Local Government Councils/Wards should form the channels to engage in a robust sensitization and awareness campaigns.



“Through the community based approach, locals, indigenes and residents will get to see familiar faces and hear from voices of persons known to them and understood by them, to talk to them about the disease, using their local dialects/languages that they understand. This should be in addition to the existing channels of communication,” maintaining that “Bulk SMS sent/distributed centrally by NCDC cannot be enough to enlighten the people.”



They called on the federal government to fund the exercise through the PTF down to the grassroots, saying that the method will not only be effective and efficient, but will be cheaper than the reported billions of naira spent for SMS and other advertorials since the outbreak of the pandemic.



Ibom Patriots called on NCDC to improve people’s perception of Covid-19 as a virus that is treatable as opposed to a death sentence, while calling for massive investment in the nation’s healthcare sector in addition to training and retraining of medical personnel yo meet up with the challenges of the time.



While calling on government, agencies and multi-nationals to promote drug research and development both in the universities and respective colleges, the organisation said the lockdown and restrictions on movement should be reviewed and eased out totally or in phases due to the adverse effect it has on the economy.

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