Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has asked the federal government to suspend flights to and from countries with high prevalence of coronavirus.
Atiku had asked the federal government to temporarily suspend flights from affected countries when Nigeria first recorded coronavirus.
The index case is a man who flew into the country from Milan, Italy. One of those who had contact with him has also tested positive, making two confirmed cases in the country.
In a statement on Thursday, Atiku said the economic impact of a widespread outbreak of the disease in Nigeria will be “catastrophic”, while calling on the government to err on the side of caution in order to prevent further spread.
“Two weeks ago, when Nigeria recorded its index case of the coronavirus, I had cause to urge the Federal Government to restrict flights from nations with a high prevalence of the Coronavirus plague. This is in line with global best practices,” Atiku said.
“This is a patriotic call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to take every reasonable step to protect the citizens of Nigeria, by temporarily suspending flights to and from such countries, until we build up our ability to contain the coronavirus. Our borders should however be open to Nigerian citizens, regardless of their status.
“Despite the commendable efforts of our patriotic health officials, it will be recalled that to date, we are yet to identify and or locate multiple passengers who flew in with the index case from Italy. They could be anywhere. We must, therefore, err on the side of caution. We cannot afford to broaden the possibility of future infections.
“The economic impact of a widespread infestation of the virus in Nigeria will be catastrophic, and will affect our national security, and status as Africa’s leading economy. The ravages of this scourge, which has officially been classified as a global pandemic, must not be allowed to test our already fragile economy.”
He expressed his willingness to work with the government to ensure the safety of the country and its citizens.
“I urge that every political and any other differences be put aside. On my part, on this issue, I am first a Nigerian, and I am willing and ready to work with anybody, at any time, at whatever cost, to ensure the safety of this country, which is the only country we have to call our home, and her peoples,” he said.
“We must act now. We must put Nigeria and her citizens first. We must ensure that our national policy is deliberately tailored to protect our most excellent national resource, the great Nigerian people.”
SOURCE: The Cable