CORONAVIRUS: BRIEF NIGERIANS NOW, SENATE BEGS BUHARI

Sunday Aborisade, Abuja

The Senate, on Wednesday, urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to “immediately” address the nation on the situation of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

The red chamber said if the president addressed Nigerians, citizens and government agencies would be more serious in adhering to the preventive measures.

It also asked the Federal Government to take more drastic measures to contain the virus’ spread.

The Senate said the preventive measures should include a travel ban on some countries identified as epicentres, restrictions on large gathering, tighter border control, and stringent screening of those coming into the country.

It also asked the government and Nigerians to keep abreast of development related to the pandemic.

It asked the Federal Government to ban some airlines from countries where the virus is widespread.

The Senate asked the government to close down all international airports in Nigeria except Abuja and Lagos as well as suspend the issuance of visa on arrival.

It urged the Federal Government to quarantine Nigerians returning from countries that had recorded over 1,000 cases.

It demanded a Special Intervention Fund to be set aside to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The resolutions followed a motion by Senator Danjuma Goje.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, cautioned against being complacent.

He called for improved measures to be taken so as to prevent an uncontrollable outbreak of the disease in Nigeria.

He said, “Even if our environment is hostile to coronavirus, we need to be extremely careful. If we feel we are safe, it will lead us to complacency.”

Senator Oluremi Tinubu, in her contribution to the motion, said the outbreak of the disease should serve as a wake-up call for Nigerians to take personal hygiene seriously, adding that Nigerians should not go about in fear.

The Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, said because Nigeria’s borders are porous, foreign nationals now use the land borders as entry and exit route.

Senator Jibrin Barau advised authorities of churches and hotels to introduce the use of testers in identifying infected persons so as to control the spread of the dreaded disease.

The Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said, “The issue at stake is one that calls for caution and proactive measures.

“There are people who are having the virus and the symptoms are not there.

“For us to deal with this matter, individual contribution is key. Those who have travelled to the epicenters of the disease are supposed to isolate themselves. Are they keeping to this?

“If you look at our health facilities, it is not in the best of state. Countries with good health facilities are on lockdown,” the lawmaker added.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, said, “We (Nigerians) are the largest black nation in the world, and our borders are very porous.

“The dangers that this virus will bring upon us because of our policy will be very dangerous.

“Once you’re not a Nigerian, we should stop them at the border and ask them to return to where they are coming from.”

Senator George Sekibo said, “Even those that have the technology to solve the problem, the virus is still spreading without respecting any person.

“Let the ministry of health come with real standard on how to behave now.

“Our airports and seaports are still open, and you don’t have the pieces of equipment to fight it.

“Let no one from this chamber travel out of here. Let us quarantine those coming from outside. Let us be more careful because we don’t have the resources to fight it.”