Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has once again expressed his disagreement with the Federal Government’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bello has long been a vocal critic of the handling of the pandemic and has called the coronavirus a ‘hoax’ marketed by the media to spread unnecessary panic.
Over 79,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Nigeria since February with more than 1,200 people dying as a result of infection.
After months of recording low figures on a daily basis, Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases have spiked in December with over 13,000 infections detected by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in three weeks.
Hopes about ending the pandemic has improved over the past few weeks with the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States and the United Kingdom.
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday, December 22 his government will ensure that Nigerians benefit from the vaccines expected to effectively contain the novel disease.
“This is an important obligation that we owe Nigerians as we go into year 2021, and it must be carried out through an efficient machinery,” he said.
Nigeria is expected to spend hundreds of billions of naira on procuring the vaccines next year, but Bello believes the nation’s economy and insecurity should be the focus of the Buhari-led government.
While speaking during a Channels TV interview on Wednesday, December 23, Bello said the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has not been giving Buhari the right ideas on managing the pandemic.
He said, “We have an economy that Mr President inherited, struggling, recession, low income, left, right, and centre; and Mr President is doing his best to make sure he pulls it out of the woods.
“Those of us charged with the responsibility of advising Mr President should do that with utmost fear of God almighty.”
Bello said the economic disruption caused by COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government has robbed many Nigerians of their livelihood, and should not be allowed to continue.
The 45-year-old said Nigeria should not simply apply the same methods adopted by other countries.
“I don’t think we should apply same solution across,” he said.
Since it was first detected in China in December 2019, COVID-19 has infected over 78 million people and killed over 1.7 million across the world.
The PTF on Monday announced a number of new restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, including the nationwide shutdown of bars, night clubs, event centres, and recreational venues.
Restaurants have also been directed to shut down, except for those providing services to hotel residents, takeaways, home deliveries, and drive-ins.
Formal and informal festivity events like weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, and end-of-year events have also been restricted to not more than 50 people.
Religious centres are to also operate at less than 50% capacity of the facility of use, with other safety measures strictly enforced.
Public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity, in compliance with social distancing rules.
The latest advisories will be implemented over the next five weeks, according to PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha