NEWS

FULL-TEXT OF CORONAVIRUS ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT BUHARI

ADDRESS BY H.E. MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE #COVID19
PANDEMIC SUNDAY 29TH MARCH, 2020
1. Fellow Nigerians,
2. From the first signs that Coronavirus, or COVID-19 was
turning into an epidemic and was officially declared a world-
wide emergency, the Federal Government started planning
preventive, containment and curative measures in the event
the disease hits Nigeria.
3. The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to
confront what has now become both a health emergency and
an economic crisis.
4. Nigeria, unfortunately, confirmed its first case on 27th
February 2020. Since then, we have seen the number of
confirmed cases rise slowly.
5. By the morning of March 29th, 2020, the total confirmed
cases within Nigeria had risen to ninety-seven.
6. Regrettably, we also had our first fatality, a former employee
of PPMC, who died on 23rd March 2020. Our thoughts and
prayers are with his family in this very difficult time. We also
pray for quick recovery for those infected and undergoing
treatment.
7. As of today, COVID-19 has no cure. Scientists around the
world are working very hard to develop a vaccine.
8. We are in touch with these institutions as they work
towards a solution that will be certified by international and
local medical authorities within the shortest possible time.
9. For now, the best and most efficient way to avoid getting
infected is through regular hygienic and sanitary practices as
well as social distancing.
10. As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this
pandemic. By washing our hands regularly with clean water
and soap, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and areas,
coughing into a tissue or elbow and strictly adhering to
infection prevention control measures in health facilities, we
can contain this virus.
11. Since the outbreak was reported in China, our Government
has been monitoring the situation closely and studying the
various responses adopted by other countries.
12. Indeed, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for
Disease Control (NCDC) was one of ten global health leaders
invited by the World Health Organisation to visit China and
understudy their response approach. I am personally very
proud of Dr Ihekweazu for doing this on behalf of all Nigerians.
13. Since his return, the NCDC has been implementing
numerous strategies and programs in Nigeria to ensure that
the adverse impact of this virus on our country is minimized.
We ask all Nigerians to support the work the Federal Ministry
of Health and NCDC are doing, led by the Presidential Task
Force.
14. Although we have adopted strategies used globally, our
implementation programs have been tailored to reflect our
local realities.
15. In Nigeria, we are taking a two-step approach.
16. First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and
residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of
workers and business owners to ensure their families get
through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and
peace of mind.
17. To date, we have introduced healthcare measures, border
security, fiscal and monetary policies in our response. We shall
continue to do so as the situation unfolds.
18. Some of these measures will surely cause major
inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we
should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of
our country.
19. In Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, there is no such thing
as an overreaction or an under reaction. It is all about the right
reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.
20. Accordingly, as a Government, we will continue to rely on
guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the
Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through
this difficult time.
21. I therefore urge all citizens to adhere to their guidelines as
they are released from time to time.
22. As we are all aware, Lagos and Abuja have the majority of
confirmed cases in Nigeria. Our focus therefore remains to
urgently and drastically contain these cases, and to support
other states and regions in the best way we can.
23. This is why we provided an initial intervention of fifteen
billion Naira (N15b) to support the national response as we
fight to contain and control the spread.
24. We also created a Presidential Task Force (PTF) to
develop a workable National Response Strategy that is being
reviewed on a daily basis as the requirements change. This
strategy takes international best practices but adopts them to
suit our unique local circumstances.
25. Our goal is to ensure all States have the right support and
manpower to respond immediately.
26. So far, in Lagos and Abuja, we have recruited hundreds of
ad-hoc staff to man our call centers and support our tracing
and testing efforts.
27. I also requested, through the Nigeria Governors Forum, for
all State Governments to nominate Doctors and Nurses who
will be trained by the NCDC and Lagos State Government on
tactical and operational response to the virus in case it
spreads to other states.
28. This training will also include medical representatives from
our armed forces, paramilitary and security and intelligence
agencies.
29. As a nation, our response must be guided, systematic and
professional. There is a need for consistency across the
nation. All inconsistencies in policy guidelines between Federal
and State agencies will be eliminated.
30. As I mentioned earlier, as at this morning we had ninety-
seven confirmed cases. Majority of these are in Lagos and
Abuja. All the confirmed cases are getting the necessary
medical care.
31. Our agencies are currently working hard to identify cases
and people these patients have been in contact with.
32. The few confirmed cases outside Lagos and Abuja are
linked to persons who have travelled from these centres.
33. We are therefore working to ensure such inter state and
intercity movements are restricted to prevent further spread.
34. Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and
the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in
Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect
from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will
also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos
and the high traffic between the two States.
35. All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes.
Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All
businesses and offices within these locations should be fully
closed during this period.
36. The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the
Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of
security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.
37. We will use this containment period to identify, trace and
isolate all individuals that have come into contact with
confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed
cases while restricting further spread to other States.
38. This order does not apply to hospitals and all related
medical establishments as well as organizations in health care
related manufacturing and distribution.
39. Furthermore, commercial establishments such as;
a. food processing, distribution and retail companies;
b. petroleum distribution and retail entities,
c. power generation, transmission and distribution companies;
and
d. private security companies are also exempted.
40. Although these establishments are exempted, access will
be restricted and monitored.
41. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters,
print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable
to work from home are also exempted.
42. All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in
accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and
drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other
parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before
departure by the Ports Health Authority.
43. Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other
essential humanitarian items into these locations from other
parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before
they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.
44. Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed
to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously
stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that
serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.
45. Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and
private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be
issued on a needs basis.
46. We are fully aware that such measures will cause much
hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a
matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of
deaths in Italy, France and Spain.
47. However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic
duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will
therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our
personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human
beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all
come together and obey scientific and medical advice.
48. As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should
see this as our individual contribution in the war against
COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter
measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with
positive results.
49. For residents of satellite and commuter towns and
communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will
surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we
shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming
weeks.
50. Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have
instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster
Management and Social Development to work with State
Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the
school feeding program during this period without
compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will
be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next
steps.
51. Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment
moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni
loans be implemented with immediate effect.
52. I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to
all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of
Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import
Bank.
53. For on-lending facilities using capital from international
and multilateral development partners, I have directed our
development financial institutions to engage these
development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the
pains of the borrowers.
54. For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that
the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid
immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive
two months of food rations in the coming weeks.
55. We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility
to support those who are vulnerable within their communities,
helping them with whatever they may need.
56. As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall
continue planning for all eventualities.
57. This is why I directed that all Federal Government Stadia,
Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation
centers and makeshift hospitals.
58. My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all
necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We
remain committed to do whatever it takes to confront
COVID-19 in our country.
59. We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the
private sector and individuals to the response as well as our
development partners.
60. At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations
be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and
impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the
central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.
61. I want to assure you all that Government Ministries,
Departments and Agencies with a role to play in the outbreak
response are working hard to bring this virus under control.
62. Every nation in the world is challenged at this time. But we
have seen countries where citizens have come together to
reduce the spread of the virus.
63. I will therefore implore you again to strictly comply with
the guidelines issued and also do your bit to support
Government and the most vulnerable in your communities.
64. I will take this opportunity to thank all our public health
workforce, health care workers, port health authorities and
other essential staff on the frontlines of the response for their
dedication and commitment. You are true heroes.
65. I thank you all for listening. May God continue to bless and
protect us all.
[/b]
President Muhammadu Buhari
29th March 2020.

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