Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Presidency on Sunday warned Nigerians to continue to observe the guidelines released to curtail further spread of COVID-19 to avert fresh lockdown.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement titled “Presidency: Nigerians should comply with mandatory mask-wearing to avert lockdowns.”
The statement was released on a day opposition Peoples Democratic Party accused the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of allegedly violating the regulations on COVID-19 which he signed last week.
The party said the President violated the regulations about the use of face mask and physical distancing in Daura, Katsina State while participating in the All Progressives Congress membership registration and validation.
But Shehu in his statement on Sunday said the Presidency was worried by reports of non-compliance with the regulations that make mask-wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory.
While appealing to Nigerians to cooperate with the government to ensure the success of the policy, the presidential aide said Buhari introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.
He appealed to state governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitisation and enforcement of the regulations.
The statement read, “The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lock down the country and continues to emphasise the non-pharmaceutical measures, and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force.
“Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day-to-day business.
“Nigerians are required to wear masks, wash hands regularly with soap and clean water, and keep a safe distance with anybody not in your household, hoping that this will help check the spread of COVID-19.
“Though vaccine availability is within reach, the propensity of the public for noncompliance weakens the fight against the virus.
“Nigerians must ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.”
Shehu said Nigerians have a duty to protect themselves and others in this difficult global health crisis, adding that “no one has immunity against this pandemic. Ignoring health warnings and refusing to comply with safety measures does more harm than good.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a major threat to public health and wearing of masks, social distancing in public places and the basic hygiene are necessary measures that have to be taken to safeguard the well-being of our citizens.”
He urged Nigerians to always have it in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a threat to the health of the population but it is also so to the national economy, and to every aspect of our everyday life.
“Protecting public health is one of the sacred duties of any responsible government and the administration will not abdicate that responsibility,” he concluded.
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