Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on email@example.com
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been roundly criticized for keeping mum amid an expanding global pandemic, broke his silence on Thursday to reassure a nation slowly, but gradually, acknowledging that coronavirus was not just for people in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Mr. Buhari promised not to restrict access to food and medication but called on the citizens to comply with recommendations meant to curb the spread of the disease.
“While calling for more compliance with regulations and restrictions on movement and gatherings for the safety of all citizens, President Buhari further reassures that government directives will not affect production and distribution of food, medications, medical equipment and other essentials as the nation wades through the global health challenge, which already portends dire economic strains,” spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.
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Right Now: There are at least 51 cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, one death and a minimum of two persons who have recovered. These numbers were changing upward rapidly in the past few days.
Also, top government officials have contracted the virus, including Mr. Buhari’s own Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, the governor of the northeastern state of Bauchi Bala Mohammed and the son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Virtually all of those who have contracted the virus in Nigeria had a history of travel or came into contact with a recent returnee from a high risk country.
President Buhari directed “all relevant agencies and regulators to provide enabling environment for industries to sustain their operations by ensuring reasonable access to industrial supplies and inputs like water, fuel, gas and essential infrastructure and relaxing of stringent laws, commending the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks for the interventions to make forex and credit more accessible to those on the manufacturing line”.
“President Buhari calls on all leaders across the country, including religious and traditional leaders, to further support the Federal and State governments in the ongoing sensitization programs on the need to stay at home and keep a safe distance in the public, and to dissuade citizens from panic buying and rumour mongering.
“The President extols State Governments, religious bodies, health workers, Federal Government agencies, including security outfits, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria for rising to the occasion to protect the country and its citizens, assuring that the government will remain steadfast in deploying more resources to lessen the burden of the pandemic,” Mr. Shehu added.