Many Nigerians will suffer if governors take over COVID-19 response – NMA President

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Innocent Ujah, president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow states take full control of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and chairman of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19, said on Sunday in the next phase of the lockdown beginning from Monday, states will take responsibility for managing COVID-19 in their areas.

“I can assure you of one thing: the ownership of the next phase will be the responsibility of the states under national supervision and coordination, because we have gone into community transmission. Where are the communities? The communities are in the states,” the SGF said.

Speaking on COVID-19 Watch, a programme on AIT, on Monday, the NMA president kicked against the decision, saying if governors are allowed to manage cases, many Nigerians would suffer for it.

“The president should not devolve those powers to the state governments because, apart from Lagos and maybe one or two other states, the commitment is, to say the least, very disappointing. I can say that because I’m a clinician myself,” he said.

“I believe that the president should please not devolve those powers. This is an emergency. Coordination is very important and the coordination should be central, should be from a point, because once you do that, Nigerians will be finished. And we pray that he doesn’t do that.

“There is nothing like local government in Nigeria; I’m sorry. It’s there in the constitution but there is nothing. So, please let’s not do that.

“This is not a political issue; this is a health issue. It cuts across everybody. We know where the commitments are and we will need the president to please prevail on the governors. If we leave it to the governors, our people will suffer; they will die and it doesn’t really matter to many of them.”

As of May 31, a total of 10,162 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 35 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

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