Stop playing politics with COVID-19 directives, FG tells governors


The Federal Government has admonished some state governors to stop playing politics with the directives issued to contain the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading across the country.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the admonition yesterday when he featured on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) programme, ‘Good Morning Nigeria.’

Mohammed, who was giving update on efforts of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) for the control of Coronavirus, underscored the need for continued engagements with states and harmonisation of directives.

The minister, a member of the task force, said the kind of rifts and counter-directives between some states and the federal government in the efforts to contain the disease were uncalled for and unnecessary.

Responding to a question on the controversy over the chopper that flew into Rivers State and the arrest of the pilots, Mohammed said such rift was uncalled for and people should stop politicising COVID-19 fight, adding: “The federal government has responsibility to all Nigerians, irrespective of the state they reside.

“A situation where the federal government needs exemption for certain category of people, but the state government will not cooperate is not helpful. We will not succeed if there is no cooperation with the state governments.”

On some state governors that have ordered the relax of stay-at-home order for Jumat and Easter festivities, the minister reiterated the need for harmonisation of the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states, noting: “We have a very little window, and as of today, there is no known cure or vaccine for this disease, all we have is non-medicinal intervention basically on prevention and management.

“We need the cooperation of the populace as a whole and they need to listen to what the federal government is saying. The whole essence of the lockdown is that by the time we lockdown for 14 days, it is a presumption that whoever is incubating the virus must have manifested.

“However, people can contact the disease by not staying at home or not adhering to the hygiene instructions, like washing of hands regularly, using hand sanitiser and social distancing.”

The lockdown order was part of measures to check the spread of the disease, with many states banning large gatherings and restricting movements.

Despite the disease spreading to 17 states as at Thursday, with 288 confirmed cases, 51 recovered and discharged patients and seven deaths and still counting, some states have relaxed the measures ahead of Easter and for Jumat prayers.

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu approved the request of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state to observe the Easter Sunday worship in various churches across the state, while his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, permitted Muslims to hold Jumat prayers and churches to hold Easter service.

In Ebonyi, the state government relaxed the ban on burials by giving those in the state between April 9 and April 20 to bury their dead, while worshippers are expected to attend their normal service only on Sunday for Christians and Friday for Muslims with effect from April 12.

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