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HURIWA raises the alarm on poor handling of coronavirus

By Segun Olaniyi and Cornelius Essen, Abuja
31 March 2020   |   3:06 am
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised the alarm that the Federal Government and its relevant agencies are not handling the Coronavirus pandemic

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised the alarm that the Federal Government and its relevant agencies are not handling the Coronavirus pandemic with the seriousness it deserves.

It claimed that government was simply spreading media propaganda to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that it was confronting the pandemic when in actual fact, there seemed to be the absence of a coordinated approach in the fight against the spread of the disease apart from Lagos State.

HURIWA commended the Lagos State government for showing good leadership and for making available food items and other relief materials to 200,000 indigent families in the state.

It also carpeted the few billionaires and corporate organisations purportedly making huge cash donations to Federal Government’s controlled Coronavirus pandemic fund instead of reaching out directly to millions of Nigerian households with essential foodstuffs and other basic needs they require urgently during the health emergency period.

“Those making donations to the government to attract tax reliefs for their businesses are hypocrites. This is because the huge funds will not trickle down to ordinary Nigerians who are in dire need of reliefs at this time.

“The funds will probably be mismanaged since there is an opaque financial administrative style in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration,” it said.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in Abuja, it affirmed that it has received confirmations from multiple sources that the media agencies in charge of the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic were currently in a state of organised chaos.

The group also said there was no clarity on the specific roles of each of the units in charge of the frontlines in Federal Government’s efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

HURIWA, therefore, urged the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health to engage professionals to properly coordinate efforts at curbing COVID-19, as current realities showed that either the organisation lacked the right calibre of field officers or the institution was grossly underfunded or understaffed.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday said plans were underway to activate environmental health decks in the 774 local government areas of the country to pursue grassroots advocacy, offer guidance and counselling and to disinfect all risk-prone areas in the councils.

Minister of the Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmoud Abubakar, in a statement in Abuja, said this was part of government’s deliberate and strategic efforts aimed at containing the spread of the deadly virus.

He added that the Department of Pollution Control and Environmental Health Officers Council of Nigeria have deployed personnel across the country to disinfect public places such as schools, airports, markets and motor parks, among others.

He explained that the increase in cases of the virus over the last few days, according to the NCDC update indicated that Nigerians needed to take more serious measures to fight the pandemic.