The Federal Government of Nigeria is currently on top of its game to implement and enforce the use of face masks among the citizens in view of the spike in the community transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the National Coordinator of the task force, Dr Sani Aliyu, said criminalising the non-use of face masks had become necessary in view of the laxity of Nigerians to all the protocols introduced to stem the escalation of the pandemic in the country.
Aliyu added that the public only complied with the protocols and guidelines on COVID-19 after the initial two weeks of the lockdown of parts of the country following a spike in the cases of the virus in March.
He, however, said in subsequent weeks, in spite of the exponential rise in the number of people infected, many citizens appeared to have become lackadaisical in complying with the regulations.
The national coordinator noted that people were selectively using face masks and cloth coverings to avoid being scolded by security agencies or when challenged to do so.
”We are now working with the security agencies and state governments to make the use of face masks in the public mandatory. There is total non-compliance with the use of face masks and social distancing. It is unfortunate that about 70 per cent of Nigerians still believe that COVID-19 is not an issue. We are not taking this issue seriously enough. On social media platforms, people still talk of conspiracy theory in reference to COVID-19. We must accept that COVID-19 is with us; we need to fight it and must work with state governors to take measures to protect citizens,” Aliyu said, adding that Nigerians must take measures to avoid contracting the disease.
Also speaking the Chairman of PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha re-emphasized that the coronavirus disease was real, debunking the notion of a conspiracy theory about the virus.
He said at this stage of the ravaging effect of the virus in the country, he was at a loss what purpose a conspiracy theory would serve.
He added that continued denial, blame game and conspiracy theory would not help the efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.
”I don’t know what purpose a conspiracy will serve. The figures of infections and fatalities we have in Nigeria are just statistics. You can place the death of somebody you know, so conspiracy theories are abstract – the reality of the situation is that COVID-19 is real.
“I have a colleague (Abba Kyari) who was instrumental to my appointment as the Chairman of the PTF. Kyari nominated me as the man best suited to lead this response. Do I need conspiracy theory to tell me that it is real?
”I have lost a personal friend, a classmate of over 45 years, a chief judge of a state, who fell victim of COVID-19. I have buried people in the community. I don’t need any conspiracy theory,” he stated.