Nigeria says it is committed to the global agenda of ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan said this at the opening session of a 2-day event to end the pandemic and build back the nation better organized by the Presidential Steering Committee in Abuja, Nigeria.
Describing the Theme: Pushing throughout the last mile to end the pandemic and build back better as apt, Lawan stated that the pandemic did not only affect the health sector, but also the socio-economic growth of the nation.
He however noted that with the emergence of the Omicron variant, the pandemic is yet to be over, hence Nigerians must not rest on their oars in fighting the pandemic.
According to him, the 9th National Assembly under his leadership is playing a critical role in supporting the Executive Arm of Government to respond frontally, through the passage of the Quarantine A t, 2010 in order to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the citizens and the economy.
” The Act provides and regulates the imposition of Quarantine and made other provisions for preventing the introduction, spread and transmission of dangerous infectious diseases in Nigeria,” he said.
He further said that the National Assembly proactively reviewed the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the 2020 national budget in order to sufficiently fund the National response to the pandemic and to provide economic stimulus packages to Nigerians.
” In addition… The National Assembly gave approval for various loans requested by the Veto arm to fund the 2020 national budget. Members of the Assembly gave 50% of their monthly salaries to Provide relief materials for Nigerians in order to cushion the effects of the pandemic on the economy,” Lawan disclosed.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee, Boss Mustapha said that the Summit aimed at bringing all stakeholders together to discuss the Theme: “Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better”.
According to him, this will create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in the National Response to COVID-19 from March 2020 till date in the bid to develop strategies to actualise the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of Year 2022.
“The National Response has been driven by a multi-sectoral process which facilitated expansive and in-depth consideration of issues as well as speedy decision making. The process enjoyed the overwhelming support of the partners from the private sector and the international community. Through these partners, Nigeria was able to put in place critical infrastructure nationwide, procure scarce medical equipment, test kits, and personal protective materials, etc”.
“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our National Response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better. There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians”.
“Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the Virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years. This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged”.
He therefore emphasised the need to adopt an ambitious, but cautious agenda to end COVID-19 pandemic by year 2022.
“Consequently, this Summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by year 2022 and building back better. Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics,” Mustapha explained.
For his part, Professor Oyewale Tomori, who spoke on Global Health Security Threat: Repositioning to end the pandemic and bring back better, said patriotism through behavioural change is key to ending the pandemic.
According to him, every disaster is an opportunity to improve.
“As the individuals make the nation, and the nations make the world, so also Global Health Security is built on the foundation of National Health Security and National Health Security is laid on the foundation of individual and our personal health security”.
” When we discuss Build Back Better in terms of disasters and pandemics, we often tend to forget that disasters and pandemics seriously affect our environment and most especially our culture. No matter what plans we formulate to respond to pandemics and disaster, we will surely fail, if we do not seriously address the issue of culture and environment”.
Tomori emphasised that underdevelopment and backwardness rest on four pillars.
“They are the real enemies of our nation, and they are Lack of patriotism, the main destroyer of our nation secondly, Self-interest, the burial ground of our national interest thirdly, Corruption, the executor of our orderly development and fourthly, Shamelessness, the destruction of our national pride”.
“Over the last 60 years, these diseases, all affecting our culture, have become the combined endemic demolisher of the foundation of our individual health security which has shaken the foundation of our national health security and in turn determined our irrelevance as a nation in contributing meaningfully to global health security,” Tomori added.