By DAVID IORJA, Abuja –
President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the “Stay-At-Home” order placed on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states since March 31 as part of measure to check the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.
The lockdown of the two states and the FCT was for an initial period of 14 days, which would have elapsed on Monday.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu in Abuja on Saturday, did not clearly say when the extension would last. It however noted that restriction of movement, a policy being adopted by nations the world over to halt and defeat the spread of this virus, “will only last as long as our scientific advisers declare they are necessary.”
President Buhari however thanked Nigerians, wholeheartedly, for their patience, resolve and strong determination to defeat the coronavirus disease outbreak.
The President said:
“We realize that today, there will be sons and daughters unable to visit their parents, and elders that are isolated from young ones. And there will be those who live day-to-day, eating as they earn, who face real and present suffering.
“No elected government could ask more of the citizens of the country that elected them than today we ask of you. But we must ask you – once more – to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place, and follow the instructions of our scientists and medical advisers: stay home, wash your hands, save lives.
“The freedoms we ask you to willingly forsake today will only last as long as our scientific advisers declare they are necessary. But they are essential – world over – to halt and defeat the spread of this virus.
“For those who suffer most egregiously, the Government has announced multiple measures to assist: 70,000 tonnes of grain is being released from the National Strategic Grain Reserves for distribution to those in most need; distribution of small cash payments are also being made, and will continue to be made by the federal government in the states and local government areas.
“We ask you to listen and follow public announcements via the mass media for instructions as to how to receive this government support – and learn of more public assistance in the coming days.
“All that the Government is asking you to endure is because nowhere in the world today is there any known way of defeating this pandemic. There is no vaccine. And that means there are choices to be made: between continuing as usual, or accepting the restrictions even when they come with unintended consequences.
“But at this darkest hour, it remains our duty to offer you the full and unvarnished truth: This is a global pandemic. 210 countries and territories across the globe are affected. We cannot expect others to come to our assistance. No one is coming to defeat this virus for us.
“Instead, the defeat of the virus in our country will be in our hands, alone. We cannot wait for others. We can only depend on ourselves now. And so we must – and we will – end this outbreak ourselves as Nigerians, together”.