ABUJA: Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has slammed the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP for attempting to politicize the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to lock down the nation’s capital, Abuja as well as Lagos and Ogun states for two weeks as part of emergency control measures against the Covid-19.
The President had in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday evening announced that the Federal Capital Territory and the two states would be completely shut down to allow health personnel to effectively contain the deadly Covid-19.
However, the PDP had immediately berated the president, describing his address as empty and manifestly lacking in content especially with regards to proffering new solutions different from what the states are already doing.
He said; “President Muhammadu Buhari, while addressing Nigerians on the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday, March 29, 2020, declared: ‘As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this pandemic.’
Interestingly, immediately following the address, on the same day, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiya described the President’s speech as ’empty and failed to address the salient demands of the impact of the scourge (of Covid-19) on the nation.’
“The statement of the PDP was complimented, perhaps inadvertently, by another statement from a private lawyer, Mr. Ebun-olu Adegboruwa SAN who condemned some of the measures announced by the President, which include restriction of movements in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun as illegal, arguing that the President ‘has not invoked his powers under the Constitution to declare any state of emergency, which must be approved by the National Assembly.’
“These responses completely ignore the gravity of the challenges and imagine that the problems can be reduced to politics and legal arguments. They all miss the point, very conveniently, that the world, including Nigeria, is fighting a war that is a threat to human life in a manner that the world has never experienced before. It is an unconventional challenge such that the enemy, Covid-19, doesn’t respect politics, legality or recurse to any form of interest. It was in fact in recognition of this that the President declared that we are all as individuals the ‘greatest weapon to fight’ the war.
“After all the hue and cry, before the President’s broadcast, lamenting the slow responses from the government in taking measures to protect citizens against the spread of the virus in the country, one would have expected some attempts to direct attention in the country to strengthen the capacity of the government to succeed in containing the spread of the virus. Or could PDP be arguing that there are other more effective measures to contain the spread of the virus, which the President has failed to take? Or could Mr. Adegboruwa be implying that there are legal provisions that could be invoked that would ensure containment of the spread of the virus while at the same time respecting the rights of citizens to move freely?
“We deceive ourselves to imagine that some of us are free from the virus, on account of which we could be tempted to politicise the problem or indulge in legal arguments. Besides, one will be tempted to ask what legal process did we invoke either as pro-democracy activists or as unionists when we declared sit-at-home under Campaign for Democracy (CD) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in 1993, 2000 and all the cases of our protest campaigns against the military and increases in petroleum prices? If the law gives us the right to protest, did we follow the processes provided under the law to prosecute all our sit-at-home campaigns? Mr. Adegboruwa, being an active participant and leader in some of those campaigns may want to humbly reflect on some of those realities and candidly reassess his position about the so-called legal requirement for restriction of movement in Abuja, Lagos, and Abeokuta.
“As for PDP, we can argue with some confidence that the position of Mr. Ologbondiya is not shared by the PDP leadership especially Alh. Atiku Abubakar and PDP Governors. This is because of Alh. Abubakar has already demonstrated his commitment to support the Federal Government to win the fight against Covid-19 for which he has already contributed N50 million. In the same vein, PDP Governors are working in partnership with the Federal Government and all Governors in the country, irrespective of party affiliations to role out uniform initiatives in all our states under the coordination of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). Without any hesitation, it could be argued that PDP Governors are not playing politics with the challenge of fighting Covid-19 in the country. We are all very encouraged for the inspiring leadership of Alh. Atiku Abubakar and PDP Governors for rising to the national challenge of teaming up with all Nigerians irrespective of party lines”, he added.