By Martin Paul, Abuja
Against the backdrop of Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread across the world, the Federal Government has been advised to order immediate restrictions of Churches and Mosques worships for at least 40 days to avert a national catastrophe.
Former Director, Planning and Monitoring, All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, Theodore Ekechi, made the call at a media briefing yesterday in Abuja.
Ekechi also called for the closure of schools at all levels and urged that a ban should also be placed on burial gathering, rallies and any other gathering where participants were above 50 persons.
“The global threat now posed by the disease commonly known as coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has technically labelled COVlD-19, is no longer an idle issue, but certainly a thematic treatise on the lips of every informed man and woman under the sun.
“The discourse on this earthshaking disease is discussed in multiple times more than the weather in Europe, dissected in dozens more than terrorism in America and, over and over again more than corruption and poverty in Asia and Africa.
“In all the countries and continents mentioned above, a practical, effective and well-coordinated measures have been put in place for the purposes of providing thorough counterpoise in the fight against this mendacious killer disease called coronavirus.
Ekechi added that “China, with her commendable heights as well as advancement in science and technology even with her heroics in medicine, has been struggling strenuously in withstanding the ravaging epidemic of COVlD-19 challenge.
America, the world omni-superpower, he said, was “almost in a state of unprecedented panic. Italy is locked down! If coronavirus can poke China in the face, rattles America to a state of panic, dislocates Iran from her socio-political cohesion, forces Italy to a humiliating and gruesome lockdown in spite of their great feats in modernity, which includes well-organised urbanisation, highly structured dwelling, far ahead of us infrastructural assets and responsive public service culture, you can then imagine the huge devastation coronavirus will cause if it is allowed to thrust its notorious tentacles in our Nigeria of today”, Ekechi added.
He recalled that “even His Holiness, The Pope, retreated to hold the first-ever virtual General Audience”, reiterating that in other climes, “high profile events, including the money-spinning professional league matches are being suspended or cancelled worldwide. What more do we need to ignite our sense of urgency given our medical and other socio-economic deficiencies?
“If coronavirus breach surges into Nigeria, its impact will be eternally devastating and hellish. This is because we have neither the capacity, organized society, adequate infrastructure, standard hospitals nor the committed, special skilled medical personnel for such a humongous challenge.
“These deficiencies to the insurgency, banditry and other socio-political cum economic drawbacks including the global oil crash, Nigeria, our dear country may wake up one morning to see a disappearing population.
“As a concerned, patriotic citizen and a statesman who is full of praises for the Federal Government’s commitment and proactive responses to this subject matter so far, I most humbly wish to advise, very strongly that the Federal Government urgently take further bold, courageous, but painful steps for an initial period of 40 days so as to avert an impending national catastrophe premised on the coronavirus imminent outbreak to wit shutdown all schools-primary to tertiary including the NYSC and advice state governments to follow suit.
“Ban all public gatherings of 50 people and above including Church and Mosque worships, crusades, rallies of all kinds, birthday parties, Burials, etc.
“Ban all non-essential government-sponsored activities like seminars, workshops, external trips, etc.
“Commence immediately, training and mobilisation of all military and para-military formations across the country for emergency response activation. “Activate a total review of the 2020 Budget with a view to removing or reducing provisions for all non-essential projects and advise state governments to follow suit.
“Effect stiffer, uncompromising controls at all borders and ports of entry. As a matter of fact, let us shutdown or postpone part of Nigeria for 40 days to guarantee our future survival than maintaining the present attitude only to grieve ad infinitum.
“The survival measure will be reviewed periodically as the world battles the challenge of the virus. “As it is said, a stitch in time saves nine. A cursory look at what is happening in China and Italy reveals that thousands of people have died of coronavirus and based on our way of life, the disease has the capacity to wipe out Nigeria in a few months if drastic pre-emptive measures are not put in place. This appeal is not prophetic, but logically empirical”, he asserted.