By Ismaila Chafe
The Presidency has expressed concern over reports of non-compliance with the recently-signed Executive Order that makes mask wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory.
A statement issued by Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman, in Abuja on Sunday, appealed to Nigerians to give their maximum cooperation for the success of the policy.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.
Shehu appealed to state governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitisation and enforcement of the Executive Order.
”To achieve this, COVID-19 task forces and committees should persuade members of the public to cooperate with government in achieving compliance and avoid crude methods that may create resistance and resentment, thereby defeating the primary goal of the Executive Order.
”The Buhari-led administration is most reluctant to lockdown the country and continues to emphasise the non-pharmaceutical measures, and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures, as put in place by the Presidential Task Force.
”Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospect of bringing it back, as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day-to-day business.
”Nigerians are required to wear masks, wash hands regularly with soap and clean water, and keep safe distance with anybody not in their household, hoping that this will help check the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
The presidential aide noted that though vaccine availability was within reach, the propensity of the public for non-compliance weakened the fight against the virus.
According to him, Nigerians must ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.
”We have a duty to protect ourselves and others in this difficult global health crisis; no one has immunity against this pandemic.
”Ignoring health warnings and refusing to comply with safety measures do more harm than good.
”The COVID-19 pandemic is a major threat to public health and wearing of masks, social distancing in public places and basic hygiene are necessary measures that have to be taken to safeguard the wellbeing of our citizens,” he added.
Shehu maintained that Nigerians must always have it in mind that the ”COVID-19 pandemic is not only a threat to the health of the population but it is equally so to the national economy, and to every aspect of our everyday life.”
According to him, protecting public health is one of the sacred duties of any responsible government, stressing that the Buhari-led administration will not abdicate that responsibility.