There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may authorise further easing of the lockdown imposed on the country to contain the spread of coronavirus, following his receipt, on Sunday, the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on the pandemic.
The country may now be able to move to the second stage of managing the pandemic after it was postponed two weeks ago.
Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, led his team to submit the PTF’s assessment report of the last ease of the lockdown and made recommendations on the way forward.
Speaking after the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he noted that the economy will be open further if President Buhari gives approval to the recommendations the task force has made.
Asked whether there is any hope of reopening the economy, he replied: “Well, we have started. Even in the first phase and the extension that came with it, substantial part of the economy was opened up by way of allowing agricultural production, people that produce fertiliser, and the oil and gas industry was never closed for one day, haulage of oil, refining and prospecting never stopped for one day and some aspects of the financial sector was opened.
“After we receive Mr President’s approval tonight or tomorrow morning, we will now know which segments of the economy he has allowed for opening.”
He explained that the PTF met the president to submit its fourth interim report and apprise him of the progress made in the last two weeks as well as the challenges.
Mustapha said the task force has suggested the measures to be put in place going forward.
He also stated that Kogi and Cross River states, which have claimed that there is no coronavirus in their territories, will be pressed to understand the imperative of tagging along with the national response.
“It is important that they realise that no man is an island when you deal with public health matters, that whatever happens in a particular locality has the consequences of skidding off to other constituencies.
“That is the message that we continue to drive in our pursuit of getting everybody to be on board. And I can assure you that there is no island as far as Covid-19 is concerned in this country.
“We must integrate the different responses from all the communities in the states and have everybody to be on the same page.
“We will continue to pursue that and we will also ensure that it happens. I can assure you that,” the SGF said.