The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spread, on Tuesday, exhibited its clout for upsetting human activities at the top echelons of the Nigerian government.
Immediately after reports said the Chief of Staff to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari tested positive to the virus, the Presidential Villa in Abuja was no longer the same. It retained all the trappings of a nation’s power core, but ripples of apprehension had already set in.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has announced two new cases of COVD-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 46, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed.
The two cases were reported in Lagos and Osun. This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Osun State.
The villa immediately began a gradual lockdown, with a directive to non-essential staff and those who had come in contact with Kyari to stay away for two weeks.
This was as three workers in Kyari’s office reportedly tested positive to the virus, while their principal himself has since been flown to an intensive care unit in a Lagos hospital.
A source, which craved anonymity, also said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has already embarked on self-isolation, a reason he did not report to the office yesterday.
The presidency further announced it would scale down the number of media organisations permitted to cover its activities. The decision, which takes effect today, is expected to trim the number of persons who visit the Presidential Villa daily, in line with the need for social distancing.
But the impact of Kyari’s positive test to coronavirus may only become obvious with the passing days. Widely regarded as the most powerful man in the Buhari presidency, his position meant he had daily contacts with almost every important personality who came to the Presidential Villa, and coronavirus thrives on contacts.
According to a list drawn by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), yesterday, Kyari has recently come in contact with the vice president, all the ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, all the 16 All Progressives Congress (APC), governors who attended the APC leadership peace meeting on March 16 where Oshiomhole’s case was decided, Bayelsa State governor who also visited the president on March 17, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who also met with the president on March 16, all who attended the inauguration of the Emergency Number 112 by the president on March 19, all staff of the Villa and all the Heads of Security agencies.
Others are all the Service Chiefs who visited him for the security briefing, all the Heads of Departments, Agencies and Parastatals, diplomats and foreign dignitaries, security personnel around the Villa, particularly those close to the Chief of Staff, the family, personal and domestic members of staff of Kyari, including his driver and orderly, any other friends, associates, a colleagues of his who may have met with him within the time, every member of the presidency cabal who may have met with him for strategy within the time; president of Guinea Bissau and all his entourage and any other Nigerian who must have visited him within the time.
BAUCHI State Governor Bala Mohammed also tested positive to COVID-19 yesterday, following his contact with Mohammed Atiku Abubakar, son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Mohammed, his family, and commissioners have already gone into self-isolation, said Mukhtar Gidado, the media aide to the governor.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meanwhile charged Buhari to douse public anxiety by addressing the nation immediately on the status of the presidential villa in relation to COVID-19.
The party said its demand is predicated on concerns about health safety issues in the villa, following reports that Abba Kyari tested positive to the virus.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “An address on the situation in the Presidential Villa will further douse public concerns about the status of certain key officials, who have not been visible in the last few days.”
It said Nigerians, no matter how highly placed, should adhere strictly to directives by relevant agencies of government on health safety measures, particularly as they relate to the isolation of persons returning from foreign trips.
The PDP urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to move into the Presidential Villa and immediately track and isolate all those who had made contact with President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, so as to check further spread of COVID-19 in our country.”
The party called on Nigerians to remain vigilant and observe all health safety directives, including social distances, self-isolation, personal hygiene and prompt report for medical assistance in the case of any symptoms.
Also, the Senate yesterday adjourned its sitting for two weeks “due to the pandemic of coronavirus ravaging the entire world. Therefore, the Senate resumes on the 7th of April,” said Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
Also, the chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, told journalists, following the adjournment, to discountenance reports that some senators, who recently returned to the country from foreign trips, tested positive for coronavirus. “So, far, there is no senator that has tested positive,” he affirmed.
Besides adjourning for two weeks, the House of Representatives, yesterday, passed a bill designed to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
Sponsored by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and other principal officers, the piece of legislation is entitled: A Bill for an Act to Provide for Relief on Corporate Tax Liability, Suspension of Import Duty on Selected Goods and Deferral of Residential Mortgage Obligations to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for a Fixed Term to Protect Jobs and Alleviate the Financial Burden on Citizens in Response to the Economic Downturn Occasioned by the Outbreak of COVID-19 Disease and for Related Matters.
Part of the bill states: “Notwithstanding the provision of any other law in force in Nigeria, any employer duly registered under Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Cap C20 LFN 2004, which maintains the same employee status without retrenching their staff as at 1st of March 2020 till the rest of the year ending 31st of December 2020 shall be entitled to 50 per cent income tax rebate on the total of the actual amount due or paid as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Tax under the Personal Income Tax Act Cap C8 LFN 2004 (as amended).”
Meanwhile, a consignment of medical supplies from the Jack Ma Foundation, to assist Nigeria in the fight against coronavirus arrived Lagos yesterday.
Jack Ma is a billionaire Chinese tech titan and founder of Alibaba.
The supplies arrived aboard an Ethiopian Airlines cargo plane at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) at 3:20 p.m. They include 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100,000 medical masks, and 1,000 protective suits and face shields.
This was as the Federal Government disclosed that all international airports would remain closed for four weeks, with exemptions to some essential flights.
Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, via his Twitter handle, said: “All international airports remain closed for four weeks as said, except for aircraft in distress. The following are also exempted but with prior approval from the Minister of Aviation in advance. They are, humanitarian, medical and relief; cargo, technical, alternate and safety.”
PCRC Decorates Bauchi Governor As National Patron, Present Him With Certificate Of Honour
The National leadership of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) on Wednesday decorated Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of Bauchi state as its National patron.
Accordingly, the forum presented a certificate of honor to the Governor in recognition of his relentless efforts, philanthropic gestures and excellent performance towards the upliftment and development of PCRC in Nigeria.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Council Chamber, Government House, Bauchi, the National Chairman of the Committee, Faruq Abdullahi Maiyama said the honour done to the Governor was in appreciation for his outstanding support to the PCRC when he was the FCT Minister notably the allocation of land.
He noted with satisfaction, the support and cooperation of the state government to the Police Community Relations Committee in the state especially the inauguration of the Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Community Policing Committee in Bauchi.
“I am very impressed to be in Bauchi not because of the reception accorded to us, but this is the first time we are coming to Bauchi for our NEC meeting in which the governor would be decorated as the National Patron. Kauran Bauchi is a National figure haven served before as FCT Minister where he supported us in many ways.”
“Your Excellency, you are a man of the people and that’s why we decided to conduct our NEC meeting just to show you our appreciation for your support to us.”
The National Chairman said PCRC was committed to the promotion of peace and security in the country and pledged to work with critical stakeholders in order to achieve the set objectives.
A statement issue by Mukhtar Gidado, Senior Special Assistant on Media, said Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed told the visitors that already, the state government has inaugurated the Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Community Policing Committee to assist police in curbing criminal activities in the state.
The Governor who spoke through his Deputy, Senator Baba Tela said his administration will continue to support security agencies including voluntary organisations in a move to rid the state against all forms of criminal activities and social vices.
“I sincerely welcome you to Government House Bauchi on behalf of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi state, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, we all know the importance of community policing committee and security to our development.”
“In spite of the influx of the population of people who are coming to the state from neighbouring states, we have been able to keep the state safe with the support of relevant security agencies including voluntary organisations.”
Governor Bala Mohammed therefore reassured that, his doors will remain open for improvement in the security of the state and acknowledged the outstanding performances of security agencies in the maintenance of peace and security in the state.
Nigeria @ 60: FCT Minister Of State, Dr. Aliyu Donates Cooking Gas, Food Items, To Trademore Flood Victims
…. Warns Residents To Stay Off wmWaterways.
By Yahaya Idris, Abuja.
As part of activities to mark Nigeria 60th Independence Anniversary, FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has donated 50 pieces of Cooking Gas and assorted food items to victims of Trademore estate in Lugbe area of Abuja Municipal Area Council who were recently ravaged by flood.
The minister who visited the scene of the flood used the occasion to warn residents to stay off waterways, while assuring that the administration would approach the Ecological Funds Office for assistance.
A signed press released by SA Media, Austine Elemue, said Dr. Aliyu commended residents of the estate for demonstrating maturity and sense of patriotism during the disaster, stressing that governance is a collective responsibility.
In her words: “I came this afternoon bearing in mind all that has happened to residents of this estate. Despite my tight schedules, I still finds it pertinent to come here in person to commensurate with you over the loss of life of our brother and the wanton destruction of property.
“I am here to also appeal to you as much as possible before any intervention from Ecological Funds office or any relevant government agencies to stay clear of waterways. Certainly, this year’s rain not only in Trademore is very heavy with colossal damages associated with it. This also tells us to appeal to our brothers in this estate and other parts who have constructions along the water-line to move to higher ground for now.
“One, it is better to be alive. This is not time to trade blame over who construct what on the waterways. But we are appealing that if you are along the waterline, you have to move before something else happen to you.
“So I want to appeal to you that natural disaster do happen without advance notice. It is not within your power or that of government. We feel your pains and we know what it means to loss a life. I want to also thank you for your patience and understanding with the government and the situation we find ourselves in”.
The minister used the occasion to task Nigerians to celebrate the 60th independence anniversary of the country, noting that despite the challenges faced by the nation, October 1 was worth celebrating.
According to her, “Nigeria will be 60 years tomorrow. No matter the situation we find ourselves, October 1 still remains a day to celebrate. To come of age and to clock diamond age is not an easy task.
Whatever anybody will think of Nigeria, we appeal to you to put the country first. Country first will move us forward, but patience and collective responsibility will take us further. Nation building is a collective responsibility”.
Earlier, the chairman of Trademore Estate Phase 3, Engr. Adewale Adenaike, commended the minister for her prompt response to the flood victims, just as he tasked the FCT Administration to address the situation urgently before it goes out of hand.
Adenaike, also stated that the ecological problem in the estate was beyond the capacity of the Abuja Municipal Area Council, hence the need for the intervention of Ecological Funds office to come to the aid of residents of the estate.
NAF Names Buildings After Arotile, 9 Other Officers
The Nigerian Air Force has named a two-block of 4 x 2 bedroom married officers accommodation at the NAF Base in Abuja after the late first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
This is happening a few weeks after a remodeled Pilots’ crew room ’ at the 115 Special Operations Group, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was named after the pilot who died in a car accident at the NAF Base in Kaduna in July.
Disclosing this during the inauguration of the buildings at NAF Base Asokoro, Abuja, on Wednesday, the Director of Administration, Air Vice Marshal A. Pani, said nine other deceased officers, who died in active service, were also similarly honoured with blocks of buildings named after them.
He said that the buildings were constructed by the Ministry of Defence as part of its 2018 capital project.
Pani stated, “These blocks are, therefore, being named after nine officers and one airman to immortalise them in recognition of their sacrifices.
“In this regard, at NAF Base Bill Clinton Drive, one of the two blocks of 10 x 1 bedroom transit accommodation is named after Flying Officer AA Mohammed (NAF/5082), who was KIA (killed in action) on 5 Sep 20 in Birnin Gwari while the second block of 10 x 1 bedroom transit accommodation is named after Flt Lt Akweke Junior Nwakile (NAF/3014) who was KIA on 21 Jul 14 while participating in Operation Lafiya Dole in the North -East.
“Additionally, the two blocks of 4 x 2 bedroom married officers accommodation are named after Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile (NAF/4512F) who died as a result of road traffic accident on July 24, 2020 at NAF Base Kaduna and Flt. Lt. John Ayonoteh Adams (NAF/3104) who was KIA on Feb 19, 2013 while participating in Operation Zaman Lafiya.”
Abubakar, said the provision of befitting accommodation for the personnel and their families remained a top priority for the NAF.
“We are currently undertaking massive renovations, remodelling and upgrading of existing accommodation in NAF Bases across the country in order to bring them to acceptable standard,” he noted.
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