Task force on coronavirus denies members collect N.5m daily sitting allowance

A man walks between rows of beds inside the male section at a COVID-19 coronavirus isolation centre at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Nigeria, on April 7, 2020. – The centre is being built with donations from Kano-born Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist and Africa’s richest man. (Photo by AMINU ABUBAKAR / AFP)

The Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus says it will not be distracted by the fake news making the rounds that its members are collecting N500,000 daily sitting allowance.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who is a member of the task force stated this when he featured on a Nigeria Television Authority Programme “Tuesday Live” Mohammed, who reiterated that fake news is competing with the fight against Coronavirus, said that the purveyors of the evil are bent on distracting the government and discrediting those championing the course.

“The motives behind the upsurge are to distract the government and discredit the main actors so that they can be battling with the fake news instead of COVID-19
“Some of the fake new are totally ridiculous but some are a mixture of fiction and science that make them sometimes believable.

“At the end of the day, they are meant to achieve the purposes of distracting government and castigate those who are carrying out the policies and programmes of government by accusing them of corruption.

“For instance, the allegation that each member of the task force gets half a million every day as sitting allowance has led to many of us receiving account numbers from many people.
“Such people believe that if you are getting such huge amount of money daily, you must share it with them; but we will not be distracted,” he said.

Mohammed said that the government is deploying many strategies to contain fake news some of which include the visit to media houses, cooperation with Facebook and Google.

“On Facebook, for instance, anytime we flag any particular item or story, it will be stamped “FAKE” and be removed from the platform and this has gone a long way in checkmating this pandemic.
“We have made reports to various security organisations on this and a lot of things are being done to track them.

“However, what is needed is to be educating Nigerians to shun these purveyors and know that there are only two sources for credible information on COVID-19
“It is either from the daily media conference by the task force and the media appearances of members of the task force or the website of National Centre for Disease Control which updates its information on this pandemic every minute,” he said.

The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnibe Mamora, who was also a guest on the programme, confirmed that he received the donation to the country by the UN on behalf of the government.

He said that the first consignments he received in Lagos included 50 ventilators, 3.5 million Personal Protective Equipment comprising gloves, face masks and allied consumables.
Dr Fiona Braka, the leader of the WHO Immunisation Team in Nigeria, who contributed to the programme via Skype, commended the federal government for efforts at combating COVID-19 pandemic.

Braka, a Public Health professional, said that WHO is providing guidance and support for COVID-19 fight in the country based on the recommendation of the task force.

“We will like to commend the measures the Nigeria authority has put in place, starting with identification and recommendation for management, when we had the outbreak.
“The whole of government’s approach is evident in the Presidential Task Force put in place with nine ministers cutting across all sectors, social, economic, humanitarian and other dimensions.

“We applaud the setting up of the coordination body, the quick recommendation for response starting from detection, testing, and efforts put in place for screening at all points of entry.
“We commend what Nigeria put in place in all these and the rapid expansion with testing capacity moving from five laboratories to 12 laboratories and the possible expansion,” she said.

The WHO representative also commended the efforts of government in training and building the capacity of 7000 health workers to fight the epidemic.

Mf Austin Agbolahor, the AIG in Charge of Operations in the Police Force Headquarters, who also spoke via Skype, appealed to Nigerians to obey the simple instructions to stay at home to defeat COVID-19.

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