Says We didn't ask Madagascar for COVD- 19 Cure
By James Ameh
ABUJA: The Federal Government has said that Madagascar donated COVID- 19 syrup to Nigeria, adding that it did not ask for the cure of the pandemic from the East African country.
It also said that Nigeria accepted the drugs in the spirit of African brotherhood.
The Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID- 19 made this known in Abuja Thursday, adding that emerging developments indicated the need for a change in tactics in the fight against the pandemic by looking both inwards and outwards.
This was even as the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has asked reporters to stop asking him about the whereabouts of a 15-member Chinese Medical Team whose entry into Nigeria on April 9 had generated some controversies.
The PTF then asked state governments and security agencies to allow farmers go to their farms now that the planting season has begun, pointing out that food security was critical to national security.
Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha denied reports that Nigeria ordered the supply of the drugs for the pandemic from Madagascar instead of looking inwards for the cure.
According to him, on "The issue of Madagascar, let me explain that Nigeria did not ask Madagascar for any solution. That has to be very clear because I have seen some narratives giving credence to a line of story that, for me, I think is only distractive.
"Nigeria did not ask. The Madagascan government decided to airlift quantities meant for African countries and so that of West Africa was airlifted to Guinea-Bissau. So, all the members of ECOWAS have their commodities off-loaded in Guinea-Bissau and that was the one I referred to, that we were making arrangements to evacuate but the impression out there was as if we abandoned homegrown solutions and we were looking for Madagascan solution.
"We did not ask for it, but it was taken in the spirit of brotherly love, or African brotherly love to Guinea-Bissau and we have asked our Ambassador there to establish the location, the quantity etc. He has done that.
"We have to make an arrangement for its freighting out of Guinea-Bissau. There are no flights, so there are so many things we have to consider.
"If we are air-freighting through air cargo, that has its process. So, please can you help us explain to Nigerians that Nigeria did not ask for it. It was brought for West African countries; similarly for other parts of Africa.
"The consignment meant for West Africa was taken to Guinea-Bissau and every ECOWAS country was asked to go to Guinea-Bissau and pick.
"It is not our priority for now. It is not a focus. There are other things that we are dealing with to make sure that we contain the spread in our nation.
"We will do that, but that does not in any way downplay what we have asked our researchers and our scientists to do.
"In the last one or more weeks, I have consistently made this appeal and those in the medical community know the protocol to follow. I get letters on a daily basis with claims of inventions. "This afternoon, I received one with even the consignment and so I was wondering whether I was going to bring it here to try it on some of you.
"That is not the protocol. The protocol is to submit these things to the appropriate organization that has the responsibility, that its role was established by government through an Act of Parliament for it to go through the processes of validation.
"It is not the responsibility of the Taskforce to validate these things. So, my appeal to our scientists and our researchers is: do not bother sending them to the Taskforce. Send them to the institutions that have been set up by government to do their job and we know the institutions. NAFDAC is there.
"It is a body acknowledged and recognized all over the world not only for homegrown cure but anything you want to bring into this country and that is why all such things carry NAFDAC numbers.
"If you send it to the Chairman of the Taskforce, will he give you a NAFDAC number? How? The Taskforce is a body that has been put in place to provide a national response to the pandemic.
"We will not take over the responsibilities of the agencies of government that have existed in the last couple of decades, and who have the primary responsibility of doing what they ought to do."
Commenting on food security,
Mustapha asked states and security operatives to allow farmers go to their farms as they were essential worke to ensure food for Nigerians.
His words, "You will recall that when the new measures were rolled out and published, we ensured that certain economic activities pertaining to food production and distribution were exempted. This, for the avoidance of doubts includes farming activities. We recognize the fact that we are in the planting season and the nation cannot afford to prevent our hardworking farmers from going to their farms. We therefore use this medium to reemphasize that farmers fall within the list of exemptions and urge State Governors, Local Government Authorities and security agencies to please allow them to carry out their activities. Our food security is critical to our national security.
"The PTF welcomes the resolution of the Nigeria Governors Forum to take steps to ramp up testing and provide the prescribed minimum number of bed spaces in their isolation/treatment centres. We in turn assure the States that the NCDC will continue to provide technical support and standardization guidelines. It will also continue to firmly
pursue its surveillance activities nationwide. We urge the States to recognize the essence of a strong partnership and always allow overarching public interest to prevail."