NASS lauds Presidential Task Force on Covid-19

The leadership of the National Assembly has lauded the role and competence displayed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha.

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila gave the commendation today when Mustapha led members of the PTF to brief them on efforts made so far to combat the rampaging coronavirus.

Senator Lawan said the PTF has done a good job so far by coordinating the fight against the pandemic, reaching out to the various states and by giving Nigerians daily updates on the national response strategy.

He also suggested the harmonisation of the funds contributed by organisations and individuals to combat Covid-19 for accountability even as he canvassed effective and efficient service delivery to Nigerians.

Mustapha told the lawmakers that coronavirus  has emerged as the most significant public health emergency of international concern spreading across 209 countries and with more than 1.5 million cases.

“The disease has placed considerable and significant strain on the global health care system and the economy of the world,” he said and warned that “given the relentless exponential growth rate witnessed in other countries, the spread of the virus in the continent and in particular in Nigeria should be expected.”

​The SGF said “the nation is at war against a very dangerous, unseen and ubiquitous enemy and all hands must be on deck to successfully prosecute the war.” He urged the National Assembly to develop a legislative framework to prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic; develop a legislative framework for reforming and transforming our healthcare systems;

Strengthen the legislative framework for economic growth through domestic manufacturing; deepen the legislative oversight during this pandemic and beyond; pass legislations that will further ease the ability of the executive to cushion the impact of the economic decline; and be part of community mobilization and enlightenment efforts.

He said the virus has spread to no fewer than 16 states with six deaths, even as he warned that there should be “no illusion that this case affects all and it is on all of us to play our part in solving this.”

He said President Muhammad Buhari gave the PTF his full support and listed its achievements as:

High level political and multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms for preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic with consequent improvement in inter-ministerial and inter-agency coordination and collaboration across all areas of the pandemic response development of a National Multi-Sectorial Pandemic Response Plan and engagement of all MDAs and extra-ministerial departments in the response.
High level coordination of the United Nations Agencies and other bilateral and multilateral partners, foundations and international bodies involved in the response resulting in  a common United Nations Basket Fund; accelerated procurement systems for good and services and attraction of donations from global philanthropists including Jack Ma as well as many corporate bodies operating in Nigeria.

High level engagement with the organized private sector with better coordination of their core competencies and expertise, especially CACOVID/ CBN COVID19 Response Fund and engagement with Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Mobilization of the States and Local Government areas resources in preparation for the possible spread of the disease into communities, including State Needs Assessment and state of preparedness.
Stimulating economic national interests to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic including engagement of local manufacturers across board for the stimulation of local production of essential commodities to reduce dependence of imported commodities particularly local production of face masks, hand sanitizers, protective gear among others.
Critical Review of state of health systems in focal States and the FCT including  improved surveillance system, and identification of available capacities for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients which has yielded over 1000 beds across facilities.
Acquisition of intelligence data to guide strategic policy formulation and implementation of control measures such as may emanate from restrictions and or lockdowns of parts or all of the states.

Mustapha said the PTF has been working in conjunction with the states, especially on testing, detection, isolation, contact tracing and management of coronavirus cases. 

He noted that the pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in the global health systems advising that “the plan therefore is to lay a legacy foundation for the immediate, medium- and long-term development of the health system.”

Going ahead, he said the PTF intends to utilise the resources being mobilised for direct development and delivery of critical infrastructure to states by donors; direct procurement and delivery of Personal Prospective Equipment and other critical equipment by donors; deployment of Rapid Response Teams to states for capacity building and support; and expansion of the testing capacity in the country.

The SGF explained that the PTF will not be directly involved in the collection and disbursement of the cash donations for COVID-19. “The Accountant General of the Federation has already published the account details for collection through five commercial banks and also provided the modalities for its utilisation. All the main COVID-19 accounts shall be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria. However, all non-cash donations shall be duly received by the PTF, acknowledged, documented and appropriately deployed,” he told the lawmakers.

Mustapha said President Buhari is aware of the impact of coronavirus on the health and wealth of the nation, especially its negative impact on the poor, the aged, the sick and the vulnerable.

Out of concern for these categories of persons, the SGF said the president has raised a team headed by the Minister of Finance to examine the impact on the economy; an economic sustainability committee headed by the Vice President; a stimulus package of over N500billion; the employment of 774,000 Nigerians; payment of Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Safety Net Programmes; continuation of the School Feeding Programme to sustain its nutritional value; the release of 70MT of grains from the Strategic Reserve for distribution in Lagos, Ogun States, the FCT as well as the 13 frontline states and the release of 150 trucks of seized rice and other commodities for distribution to the poor.


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