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Presidency certifies aides coronavirus-free, reassures on containment efforts

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Says high food prices being tackled

The Presidency, yesterday, dismissed reports that one of its aides had tested positive for COVID-19, urging Nigerians to be wary of fake news peddlers.

It described as “utter falsehood and disgraceful lies”, a social media report, “which Wednesday (yesterday), claimed that the aide, Sarki Abba, tested COVID-19 positive.”

Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement, stated: “This report is sheer fabrication and brazen effort by the online news medium to mislead the public.

“Upon the directive of doctors and scientists and supervision of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff, all staff working for and around the President, are routinely and rigorously checked for the virus.

“The Senior Special Assistant, Social Affairs and Domestic Matters, Sarki Abba, always tested negative.”

In a similar vein, President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured on sustaining efforts to make adjustments to new lifestyles and maintain sensitivity to the security underpinnings, as experts search for vaccines and possible cure for the disease.

In his remark yesterday to the AQABA Process virtual meeting in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, he said Nigeria developed a robust framework led by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to coordinate and oversee the country’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts at containing the spread and mitigating the impact of the pandemic.

Admitting that the measures came at a cost, Buhari, however, pledged that they would be sustained.

He said the Federal Government had taken actions to tackle the social and economic dimensions of the scourge with a focus on the provision of palliatives to the most vulnerable citizens in the society.
Also yesterday, the Nigerian leader expressed the concern of his administration over the rising prices of food, especially at a time when the economy had been slowed down by the novel coronavirus.

Assuring that the situation was transient, he added that the government had begun putting measures in place to ameliorate the situation.

He said: “While Providence has been kind to us with the rains, and as such an expectation that a bumper harvest would lead to crashing of food prices and ease the burdens on the population, government’s concern is that the exploitative market behaviour by actors has significantly increased among traders in the past few years, and may make any such relief short-lived.”

“This year has indeed tested us in ways that globalisation has never been tested since the turn of the century. These challenges have disrupted lives and supply chains all over the world, and Nigeria has not been spared.

“The effect has been deeply felt in the delays encountered in the procurement of raw materials for local production of fertiliser (damaging standing crops before harvest) and the speculative activities by a number of rice processors who are ready to pay for paddy at any price to keep their mills running non-stop.

“But of all these problems, the most worrisome is the activities of corrupt middlemen (with many of them discovered to be foreigners) and other food traders who serve as the link between farmers and consumers found to be systematically creating an artificial scarcity so that they can sell at higher prices.”

Buhari added: “In dealing with these problems, the administration has, in line with its ease of doing business mantra, avoided imposing stockholding restrictions, in order not to discourage investments in modern warehousing and cold storage.”


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