The PTF lamented that Nigerians were avoiding
being tested; we had low testing ratio to the population.
This was made known at the House of
Representatives on Monday when members of the PTF appeared before a joint committee of
the House to account for the funds allocated and donated to the fight against the pandemic.
AS Nigeria’s confirmed COVID-19 cases
surpassed 12,000 and the death toll hit 342 on Sunday, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has
said the country may just be starting to experience the epidemic.
Chairman of the PTF, who is also the Secretary
to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, expressed uncertainties over the pandemic, urging the lawmakers to help extend the campaign to the grass roots. He said, “I must say that the virus is still very dangerous. We have not peaked; we have to meticulously plan.
There is no timeline; that is
why money is not being thrown at it just because
it has been released. “There is no medicine or vaccine for this. The humanity is simply overwhelmed by it. Everything
has been turned upside down.
Today, we are all
masked up, we never used to know it will be like this.
Please, honourable members, there is a lot you can do for us; a lot of legislative actions that can be taken, looking into the future. We are
dealing with it today; the next pandemic must
not catch us unawares. We must prepare for it.” “We don’t know how long this will take us. Even
the budget that the National Coordinator
mentioned is for a period of six months. We do
not know how long it will take us.
But by the
grace of God, we shall overcome.
Earlier, the Director General of Nigeria Centre for
Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, while
responding to a question on whether the PTF
had projected a figure for cases to know when
Nigeria has reached the peak of the pandemic,
stated that the country was just entering it.
He said, “We are still in the middle of a very,
very bad outbreak. In fact, it is most likely that
we are at the beginning of a very bad outbreak.
This is the honest truth. And as we dig into the
details of what we have done, I really crave your
indulgence to please, bear in mind that we do
this work together, because we really have a
collective responsibility to our people.
Ihekweazu also dismissed the claims that the
NCDC had spent millions on text messages to
sensitise Nigerians. “The SMS story was of course not true. We will
never spend that amount.
In fact, all the SMS
everybody receives are free, courtesy of the
large telcos in the country. We have not paid a
dime for SMS. Right now, we have tested less
In the country at the moment, we
have capacity to test over 200,000. In his remarks, Chairman of the House
Committee on Public Accounts and leader of the
joint committees, Wole Oke, said, “The only
person that is not here, that I am worried about
is the Accountant-General of the Federation, who
is the chief accountant of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, who should tell us the total sum that
we have realised.
The gentlemen here can only
speak to what has been released to them.”
The lawmakers, however, berated the
Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed
Idris, for not attending the hearing.