The federal government is not getting the kind of cooperation it deserves from Nigerians, the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, has said.
Mr. Mohammed said many Nigerians are busy with “meaningless” criticisms instead of complying with the stipulated directives to keep people safe.
The minister said this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja
“Some Nigerians who flew into the country from overseas filled wrong addresses and phone numbers in their forms, making it difficult to trace them when the need arises.
“Some Nigerians defied orders to stay away from large gatherings while some religious leaders willfully flouted the directives to ensure social distancing.
“The government is doing its best but we need the citizens to do their best too. We have now gone past the stage of persuasion. It’s time for strong enforcement,” he said.
He said even though the federal government’s strategy at containing the pandemic is working, the government is working on stiffer measures to enforce measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
He listed the measures as social distancing, contact tracing, testing, isolation of suspected cases and ensuring that messaging gets down to the grassroots.
“We are considering tougher measures to enforce compliance, stop the exportation of the disease to states that do not have it and minimise spread. Possible measures include:
“Stopping inter-state/inter-town travels, except for essential services
“Closing all motor parks and inter-state rail stations. Already, all train movements nationwide have been stopped, and
“Using fire fighting and other adaptable vehicles and personnel to fumigate cities and towns.”
He also said new measures will be considered and announced from time to time.
The minister, again, said the epidemic of fake news is now competing with the pandemic of coronavirus, and this, he said, is not helping the fight against the disease.
He cited the instances of such fake news to include;
“That there are only two ventilators in Abuja, out of which one has been commandeered for a top government official
“That a British Airways Flight was due to land in Nigeria on Wednesday despite the closure of all international airports.
“That President Muhammadu Buhari has been coughing and is now on a ventilator.”
He also said that a section of the traditional media has also been engaging in “scaremongering and irresponsible reporting” on the disease.
He said it is wrong to speculate on those who are positive or negative for coronavirus without any empirical information.
“In any case, being positive to coronavirus is not a death sentence, as we can see around the world.”
Suspension of flights
The minister said five domestic airlines (Air Peace, Aero, Azman, Dana and Arik) have commendably decided to suspend their operations.
“The suspension is a boost for the efforts of the government to check the spread of the pandemic. Some of the airlines have also announced one form of support or another for the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.”
Mr Mohammed said the federal government is also aware of the support of the private sector and pleaded for the support and cooperation of more capable individuals and organisations in order to defeat the pandemic.