By Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has blamed what it described as the nonchalant attitude of the federal government for the presence of the dreaded coronavirus infection in the country.
On the other hand, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned against blame game on the matter urging decisive steps towards solution.
Nigeria recorded its first case of coronavirus infection an Italian citizen who arrived in the country tested positive to the virus in Lagos on Friday.
The Italian, whose identity has yet to be revealed, had been under the care and supervision of the Lagos state government.
In a statement on Friday by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party accused the federal government of negligence towards the welfare of Nigerian.
The PDP said it was evident that the federal government was not alive to its responsibilities and failed to take concrete steps to hedge the country against the virus.
Describing the situation as scary, the party noted that a responsive and proactive government would have mobilised effective surveillance and screening measures to ward off the menace, particularly at entry points.
“But the incompetent, insensitive and indifferent Buhari administration, was more interested in propaganda and unnecessary showboating with false performance claims,” it said.
The party also noted that the administration had done nothing to assist Nigerian citizens stranded in China despite their pleas, “just the same way it abandoned our compatriots who were being murdered in the heat of xenophobic attacks in South Africa”.
The PDP said Nigerians should hold the administration responsible should any national calamity arise from COVID-19 in addition to the prevailing economic and security challenges.
The statement further said, “Due to the negligence and incompetence of the Buhari administration, Nigerians can no longer move freely across their country for fear of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and now corona virus.
“Indeed, the Buhari government is a huge misfortune to our nation. This latest leadership failure further validates widespread calls for it to step aside for more competent hands to manage the affairs of our country.”
The party called on Nigerians not to despair but to stir up the Nigerian resilient spirit for an urgent, multi sectoral concerted effort by agencies, groups, corporate entities and public-spirited individuals to immediately curb the disease before it spreads.
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It cautioned that allowing the virus to spread could compound the prevalent security, economic and humanitarian challenges in the country.
The PDP called on the Federal Government to end its “cosmetic attitude” and immediately adopt the proactive strategy used by the last PDP administration in containing the Ebola Virus disease in 2014.
It also advised Nigerians to be very vigilant and follow intervention directives to ensure that the disease did not spread in the country.
The PDP urged the federal ministry of health to continue to be open and not allow propaganda, speculations and misinformation in the handling of the health emergency.
Atiku, however, called for unity and national resolve in the handling of the situation, urging the government to face the challenges squarely, as the past administration did with the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
Atiku, in a statement he personally signed, said, “We must call upon our experience with the Wild Ebola Virus, of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat that scourge in 2014.
“How did Nigeria do it? We achieved it by showing unprecedented unity. The federal government of the day, worked closely with the Lagos and Rivers state governments.
“There was complete unity, solidarity and oneness of purpose, which created the atmosphere that defeated that deadly infestation.
“I strongly counsel that any tendency to blame and point fighters must be temporarily, if not permanently, suspended. If fingers must be pointed, it must be to solutions.
“Nigeria needs firm and decisive actions to prevent an escalation of the scourge. Recently, we closed our borders as an act against economic sabotage.
“Perhaps now is the time to temporarily halt flights to and from any nation with a prevalence of this scourge.
“It is more important to secure human lives than to secure an economy. We also need to invest in early detection facilities at our airports.
“But above all, Nigeria must not panic. Whether at government or individual levels. We have defeated Ebola before and we can defeat this present predicament.”
The former Vice President said the crisis has presented the opportunity to show that we are first and foremost Nigerians, adding that, “we have no other country but our own dear fatherland, which we must work together to keep healthy and secure.”