Investments in health and education are strong pillars in building a strong nation, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has asserted.
These are part of the lessons taught by the Coronavirus pandemic and that is why the Federal Government has responded to these challenges in the 2021 Budget proposals.
The SGF said Nigeria owes a lot of gratitude to the CACOVID for its intervention which facilitated the restoration of international flights and rapid establishment of isolation centres to treat coronavirus in the country.
Mustapha, represented by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu at the Realnews Eight Anniversary Lecture in Lagos, canvassed a drastic improvement in response time by health care institutions to enable them face emergent challenges such as COVID-19.
He said Nigeria was able to curb the spread of COVID-19 by its decisive step and enforcement of lockdown.
“The leadership was consistent and decisive. The body language of political leadership also helped”, he disclosed.
He defended the decision to charge international travellers for post-arrival testing because government cannot afford the cost of PCR tests for such category of people.
He said the PTF was able to achieve success through proper coordination and follow-up strategy on testing, risk communication and scaling up the social investment register for the very vulnerable citizens.
“We have to a large extent flattened the curve but we could have achieved more if we carried out more tests beyond the 700,000 mark”, said the SGF.
He identified lack of cooperation by state governments in identifying fully with the National Response Strategy even as they received -N-50 billion to fight COVID-19.
He said the funds sent to the states was meant to ensure mass testing and treatment and not construction of hospitals and roads.
The coming year will be tough on the economy and survival, but it is more important to survive the pandemic first, said the SGF.
He decried the attitude of travellers who arrived the country and failed to turn up for testing seven days post-arrival after paying for such.
“We will soon publish the details of their travel passport and ensure they face the penalty of a six- month travel ban”, he disclosed.
He warned Nigerians to be cautious and prevent the resurgence of coronavirus even as he assured that the pandemic will abate with time.