Buhari: I have lost staff, close friends, relatives to COVID-19

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday that he has lost lost a close member of his staff,  some relatives and friends to COVID-19.

The President said this in the national broadcast he delivered to mark the 2012 Democracy Day while speaking on the effects of the pandemic globally and in Nigeria.

It will be recalled that the President’s Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari was one of the high profile personalities that have succumbed to the virus in Nigeria. Also, the President has lost some of his relatives in Katsina, his home State in recent time, though it was not announced that they were killed by COVID-19.

While noting that in January 2020, the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the President noted that the number of global infections has risen from less than 8,000 shared between China and eighteen other countries to over 7 million spread over 216 countries and on all continents.

He also noted that Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days.

While speaking on the steps his administration has taken to curb the pandemic and its effects on Nigerians and the economy,  the President said,  “I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month, which underscores the gravity of this pandemic. There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones.

“Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some relatives and friends. In order to have a robust National response, I approved a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to provide guidance and leadership in tackling the pandemic nationwide.

“State Governments also constituted their own COVID-19 Task Forces. Complementing this was the establishment of a National Emergency Operations Centre responsible for providing technical and professional guidance in the National Response.

“The overall objective of the PTF COVID-19 is to ensure that the pandemic does not overwhelm our health systems, while ensuring that we maintain an effective Case Management System to help in containing the spread of the virus.

“The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.

As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots.

“I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced. I receive regular briefing from the PTF on COVID-19. I note that the National Response relies on Science, Data and Experience in taking decisions. This informed my approval for the ease of lock down phase to ensure a balance between lives and livelihoods.

The President added that he is confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve while imploring Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols.

“There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility. Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak. Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.