The presidency has defended the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians on the coronavirus pandemic.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how several presidents worldwide including those of African countries like Ghana and South Africa have been addressing their citizens on the pandemic regularly.
Many Nigerians have criticised the president for not addressing them despite the increasing cases of the disease in the country.
Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, while speaking on a Channels Television programme on Thursday, however, said Mr Buhari’s silence is a ‘style’.
“It’s a matter of style,” Mr Adesina said.
“If you go back to school you will remember in Stylistic class we were told that is idiosyncratic, which means it differs from person to person. The style that A adopts may not be the one that B adopts. There is no style we can call the style for everybody. Everybody is at liberty to adopt a style that suits him.
“The style our president has adopted is to set up a presidential Taskforce committee headed by the SGF which meets regularly. You have the health minister, grant go briefs, the minister of state health who also briefs, the NCDC also briefs, there is no lack of information.”
Mr Adesina’s explanation comes days after the information minister, Lai Mohammed, said it was not yet the appropriate time for Mr Buhari to address Nigerians on the matter.
On Thursday, Mr Adesina refused to speak on the health status of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who tested positive for the virus.
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He, however, said the presidency, like most of Nigeria, was not working at full throttle because of the regulations on the virus.
“Office are fairly on a low key in the presidency because the entire country is also on a low key. We can’t say we are running at a full blast now,” he said.
Nigeria has now confirmed 65 cases of COVID-19 including 14 confirmed Thursday night
Only one person has died from the disease in Nigeria.
Read Mr Adesina’s full responses to questions asked on Thursday.
Q: How the presidency is conducting day to day activity
Adesina: Office are fairly on a low key in the Presidency because the entire country is also on a low key. We can’t say we are running at a full blast now. Instead of holding meetings where we seat round the table, we can do virtual meetings, consult and contact one another in different ways, we don’t have to hold the meeting in the normal way we use to. But things are low key.
Q: On fumigation
Adesina: It is a normal thing it is done from time to time. The villa is under a retainer-ship, people that keep it clean, that fumigate from time to time so there is nothing extraordinary about it.
Q: How is chief of staff doing?
Adesina: Obviously you listened to the minister of health earlier in the day when he briefed, he didn’t confirm, he just said an aide to the President. So I wouldn’t be mentioning names.
Q: I asked how the president’s chief of staff is doing, I asked you earlier how you were doing and you said you were fine. So I am just asking how the chief of staff is doing if you know?
Adesina: Because I have not seen him for a couple of days so I wouldn’t be able to tell you that this is how he is. If you ask me about the President I will tell you the President was still in the office yesterday, I will tell you that Mr. President is doing fine.
Q: I’m sure you are aware of the news about the state of health of the President’s chief of staff. Of course we wish everyone the best at this time but it is important to have some form of clarification on this matter. People are wondering is the presidency keeping mum on this deliberately?
Adesina: No. But you also need to remember that it is a question of ethics. If the health minister who is a reputed medical doctor came out to brief and he didn’t mention names, it tells you it is in the realm of ethics. Anybody passing through a health condition is the one that can authorized that it be revealed, nobody else not even a doctor treating that person dare reveal it. Otherwise you will be bridging the ethics. Prince Charles for instance tested positive, he said reveal it and a statement was issued to that effect, he authorized it.
Our Vice President tested negative and he said disclose it and his media aide disclosed it. So that is the way it is done ethically.
Q: As a matter of closure on this what will you be telling Nigerians?
Adesina: I will be telling Nigerians that we are part of the global Community. The world has an emergency, had a crisis, the world has is battling it with each country trying as much as it could within its capacity, nigeria is part of that global community. The country is doing its best let’s stay focused, let’s continue to battle this virus which is a common enemy of humanity and let’s leave little things aside and face the major thing.
Q: Why are there no daily briefings from presidency like it’s been done in other nations?
Adesina: It’s a matter of style. If you go back to school you will remember in Stylistic class we were told that is idiosyncratic, which means it differs from person to person. The style that A adopts may not be the one that B adopts. There is no style we can call the style for everybody. Everybody is at liberty to adopt a style that suits him. The style our president has adopted is to set up a presidential Taskforce committee headed by the SGF which meets regularly. You have the health minister, grant go briefs, the minister of state health who also briefs, the NCDC also briefs, there is no lack of information.
Q: Nigerians wonder has the love the president shown them in 2019 when he was campaigning been lost?
Adesina: There are two commensurates, this you cannot parallel with campaigns, this is about day to day affair of the country. No, you cannot compare the two. If it becomes imperative for the president himself to speak, he will speak. But the president’s style is that when he gives you an assignment, he leaves you to do it. There are people that he has set up in committees, in Taskforces, in groups and they are doing the work and they keep Nigerians abreast with developments, so we let them do it.