Senate has warned that adoption of the European style of fighting the deadly COVID-19 pandemic by the government, would kill the nation’s economy.
This is as the National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, admitted that poverty is one of the strongest weapons against the pandemic.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), gave the warning during an interactive session with stakeholders in the aviation and health sectors on safety measures put on ground in the wake of commencement of international and domestic flights in the country.
Senator Adeyemi in his remarks at the interactive session, jointly organized with the Senate Committee on Health, said though based on realities on ground, COVID-19 is real but not potent in Nigeria and many of the African countries.
According to him, based on that reality, it is wrong for stakeholders in the country to be swallowing hook, line and sinker, measures being adopted to fight it in Europe, America, China etc.
“There is something in us as Africans that is not in them in Europe and America, which made COVID-19 not to be disastrous here as it was there.
“In the light of this, measures that are detrimental to the livelihood and well-being of Nigerians should be avoided, so as not to kill the Nation’s economy,” he said.
The lawmaker specifically faulted the policy adopted by the PTF) on COVID-19 which allows only private laboratories to carry out tests on intending travellers abroad.
The measure, according to him, is detrimental to average Nigerians who are being forced to cough out N75, 000 for such tests.
“The amount is too high , it should be brought down and public health Institutions laboratories should be equipped to carry out the tests.
“People are not finding things easy outside there as a result of way and manner COVID-19 pandemic is being fought in the country and as Representatives of the people, feelers reaching us, indicate revolt against government in December if drastic actions are not taken between now and then, to make things easier,” he warned.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South), took up both the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu on the usefulness of face masks in Nigeria based on realities on ground.
She said based on what she saw in many communities in Ekiti State last week, residents have jettisoned its usage.
“When I visited some communities in Ekiti State last week, nobody put on the face masks and in fact, some of them told those who put it on not to bring COVID-19 to them.
“These are clear signs that methods and approaches being used to fight the pandemic should be re- assessed and changed since the pandemic for reasons yet to be scientifically established , is far less potent here than it is, in Europe, America etc,” she said.
She then pointedly asked the PTF National Coordinator , reasons behind the success story in Nigeria.
In his response, Dr. Aliyu said the three reasons already identified are poverty, demography and aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic.
According to him, though the factor of poverty as part of the success story against COVID-19 in Nigeria is controversial but it is generally believed that the pandemic gets weakened in crowded and stuffy areas.
“Demographically, only three per cent of Nigerians are above the age 65 as against 20 per cent, 18 per cent, etc, of such populations in European and American countries where death casualties were high.
“Aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic, also helped tremendously in containing the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria and many of the African countries,” he said.
The joint committee, however, ordered the minister and the PTF national coordinator, to enlarge the scope of laboratory testing for the pandemic by including the public ones and ensure reduction in the cost of testing.
Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central), said the committee is expecting response action plans from the minister and the PTF within the next two weeks.