Boss Mustapha

A group, Civil Society Alliance Against COVID-19 has called for the removal of the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, for attending the burial of the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari.

The group in a statement on Wednesday said Mustapha violated its own recommendations on social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment during the burial.

The statement reads, “We were saddened and disgusted as we watched the Federal Government including the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on national television violate its own recommendations on social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment. It introduces a huge credibility gap in the government’s efforts to manage this pandemic.

“We therefore call for the removal of the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 for the lack of leadership he displayed which has the potential to damage all the work the NCDC and other institutions, including civil society are doing to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Strengthen the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 by including the Women Affairs Ministry and other stakeholders and place it under the direct oversight of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, for better coordination and alignment. As he is already overseeing the Economic Sustainability Committee, this move will accelerate the success of the COVID-19 response through synergistic implementation of the various palliative interventions of the government in the interest of the majority of Nigerians who are on very low incomes.”

The group also called for urgent adjustments to the current lockdown policy and a revamped, people-centred approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It added, “The federal and state governments should expeditiously carry out extensive mass education and enlightenment campaigns on prevention of COVID-19 using all the machinery typically deployed during electioneering campaigns especially radio, TV, town/village criers etc.

“This is a campaign for every Nigerian’s survival. The campaigns should focus on educating Nigerians about COVID-19, the use of masks, the need for physical distancing, hand washing, good hygiene practices, non-stigmatisation of those who test positive for COVID-19, and what to do at home if people experience mild symptoms.

“Address increased gender-based violence by ensuring continued access to services for victims; clarifying that those providing GBV-response services are exempted from movement restrictions in order to attend to victims and providing extra funding and other resources for GBV services.

“Enforce Social Distancing rules by working with commercial transporters and National Union of Road Transport Workers to limit the number of passengers that can be carried and requiring every transporter (cars and trucks) to keep copies of detailed manifest of drivers and passengers. In addition, urgently consider the mandatory use of masks by passengers in public transport vehicles alongside emergency measures to make these affordably available to those traveling.

“Discipline law enforcement personnel who are undermining the lockdown measures, especially cross border movement by aiding and abetting violators of the lockdown.”

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