The presidency has enjoined Nigerians to wear facemasks and comply with other COVID-19 protocols to avoid another lockdown.
This is coming as Nigerians had on Saturday expressed dismay over President Muhammadu Buhari’s reported violation of the executive order regulating COVID-19.
The law, which was recently signed by the president, prescribes a six-month jail term for defaulters.
In some of the pictures that surfaced online, Buhari was seen discussing with some All Progressives Congress’ leaders at the revalidation of his APC membership in Daura on Saturday without putting on a nose mask or maintaining social distancing as stipulated by the new law.
He, however, wore the mask while signing his form.
Some of the Nigerians who reacted wondered why the president used the mask when he wanted to take pictures and later removed it.
To many Nigerians, especially the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP the president should always lead by good examples.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, titled, ‘PDP Expresses Dismay By Buhari’s Violation of COVID-19 Law…Charges Nigerians Not to Follow Such Examples’, described the president’s action as “a huge national embarrassment and gross failure of leadership”.
The party noted that Buhari, who ought to lead by example, is seen publicly violating the COVID-19 regulation, which he signed just five days ago.
Part of the statement read, “It is indeed scandalous that while Nigerians are striving to obey the COVID-19 regulation, which stipulates the compulsory wearing of a nose mask and physical distancing in the public, they are being confronted with reports of open violation of the law by Mr. President at the All Progressives Congress’ membership revalidation exercise in his hometown, Daura, Katsina state on Saturday”.
However, in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, the presidency said it is worried by reports of non-compliance with the recently signed executive order that mandates the use of face masks and social distancing.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the executive order with the best of intentions and not with the motive of punishing citizens.
“The Presidency is worried by reports of non-compliance with just signed executive order that makes mask-wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory, appealing to Nigerians to give their maximum cooperation for the success of the policy,” the statement read.
“President Muhammadu Buhari introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.
“The Presidency appeals to state governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitization and enforcement of the executive order.”
Shehu said the Buhari-led administration is reluctant to impose another lockdown given the socio-economic consequences.
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“The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lock down the country and continues to emphasize the non-pharmaceutical measures and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force,” the presidential spokesman said.
“Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day-to-day business.
“We have a duty to protect ourselves and others in this difficult global health crisis; no one has immunity against this pandemic. Ignoring health warnings and refusing to comply with safety measures does more harm than good.”
He urged Nigerians to ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.
COVID-19 task forces and committees were also encouraged to persuade members of the public to cooperate with the government and avoid crude methods that may create resentment and defeat the primary goal of the executive order.
Lockdowns and movement restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus resulted in economic recessions in many countries across the world, including Nigeria.
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