The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha said Monday that the ongoing mass looting and destruction of property of private and public entities by hoodlums would cripple the country’s economy.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the SGF said the most worrisome aspect is that COVID-19 infections rate may experience an unprecedented spike if the mass looting continues with flagrant disregard of protective measures.
“The PTF could not hold the briefing for Thursday last week due to the security and other pressing national issues. Today, you will also observe that most of the Ministers are not present because they are out of station for community and stakeholder engagements.
“Over the past two weeks, Nigerians have focused attention on two important issues namely:the protests by youths which has unfortunately metamorphosed into an unprecedented safety and security situation; and COVID-19 developments in-country and around the world.
“Both activities are critical to our nation because:the security situation impacts negatively on our economy, social life, international reputation and ability to effectively coordinate the National Response; and the large gatherings witnessed during the protests and during the break-ins at various warehouses, homes and looting of stores puts us at a great risk of resurgence of the virus,” he said.
He said the global pandemic situation has continued to escalate, stressing that cumulative number of infections has crossed the 43 million mark, with the United States of America, Europe and India continuing to post high numbers due to the resurgence.
He said the global fatality count has also reached a cumulative number of 1,158,810 COVID-19, stressing that the Case Fatality Ratio has declined gradually to 2.7%.
He said in the last twenty-hours, 4,498 deaths were reported from 96 countries and territories worldwide, with Europe (France, Italy, and UK) accounting for accounting for 30% (1,358 deaths).
He said African has recorded a cumulative total case count of 1,727,887 including 41,323 deaths (CFR 2.4%). “Nigeria maintains the 5th position in highest cumulative cases after South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia. You will recall that when the PTF reopened the airspace, you were informed that discussions were on-going with EU Ambassadors on the resumption of flights by European airliners.
“I am pleased to inform you that there have been positive developments which the National Coordinator shall elaborate on during this briefing.
“At the last national briefing held on Monday, 19th October, 2020, the PTF appealed to the youths of our nation to embrace the offer of dialogue and leave the streets so that the government could address their concerns in a sustainable manner.
“In the intervening period, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also addressed the nation and assured that their voices have been heard loud and clear and that the government was responding.
“Unfortunately, the protests have been hijacked by other tendencies that have inflicted great economic costs through arson, looting of warehouses, invasion of private homes, shopping malls, jail breaks and generally engaging in wanton destruction under the disguise of the protests.
“Of particular concern to the PTF, is the issue of palliatives found and looted from various warehouses around the country. It is important to make the following clarifications. The Federal Government Palliatives consisted largely of the 70MT of grains released from the Strategic Grain Reserves as well as rice secured from the Nigerian Customs Service. The shares for each State were handed over to the State Governments for onward distribution to the citizens.
“The private sector coalition (CACOVID) that has been quite supportive of the Federal Government, worked with the States through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to determine the quantum of their intervention, which was intended to be effective and equitable. A number of indices were worked out for this purpose.
“The PTF still wishes to appeal to all Nigerians to remain law abiding and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to restore normalcy to our dear country. Humanity has been traumatized by COVID-19. Our nation is not experiencing a second wave but has been impacted negatively by the looting and arson,” he said.