Covid-19: Anambra State deserves particular attention of the federal government, says LAP


… Wants FG to initiate discussion with INNOSON on production of Ventilators                                                                                  

Following efforts by the federal and state governments to contain the spread of the Coronavirus also known as Covid-19, the League of Anambra Professionals (LAP) has said that Anambra State deserves particular attention from the federal government given certain factors like high population density (second to only Lagos State), the commercial inclinations of the residents and their high international exposure.

The President of LAP, Chijioke Okoli, SAN in a statement on Friday observed that Anambra State Government should equally strive even more to rise to the occasion by setting up as a matter of utmost urgency at least one coronavirus test center in the state.

Okoli noted that while the restriction of movement in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States were steps in the right direction, albeit somewhat belated, they were not unaware of the raging debates by lawyers on the legality of the proclamation and its enforcement saying “but our considered view is that that the Quarantine Act would appear to provide sufficient legal cover for the Federal Government.

“The Act is an existing law and which has not been declared unconstitutional by any court. At any rate, the existential threat to the human society as we know it posed presently by the pandemic is hardly the podium for dissipation of energy on fine points of law; lives and a whole way of life are at stake and self-preservation is the first law of nature. If anything, as difficult as it is, a way should be found to extend the restriction nationwide”, he said.

He noted that the Lagos State Government had been commendably active regarding containment measures, being the first government in the federation that seemed to realise the enormity of the problem and reacting accordingly.

He added that the federal government’s grant of N10 Billion to Lagos State was a step in the right direction considering population, the strategic importance of the City of Lagos and the evident effort and transparent deployment of resources by the state government in combating the scourge even as he believed that many other states could learn a few useful lessons from Lagos State.

The LAP President pointed out that the Anambra State Government had taken equally commendable steps in containing the pandemic within the state noting that closing down of all schools, markets and other measures like prohibition of large crowds, emphasizing individual measures like social distancing, frequent hand-washing and liberal recourse to hand sanitizers embarked upon by the State Government were standard defensive mechanisms against the pandemic.

According to him, “The pains to the citizenry on the back of these measures, like suspension of weddings, funerals and other socio-culturally necessary events are worse than excruciating. Nevertheless, we all must support the government in its goal of keeping us safe. And the palliative measures, especially provision of ample food supplies to the senior citizens-those of 70 years and above-are most commendable.

“However, the challenges involved in arresting and ultimately defeating the pandemic also require robust involvement of private persons-individuals and corporates. The Anambra State Government, just like the Federal Government, is raising funds dedicated to combating the coronavirus pandemic. All are urged to make contributions, no matter how small. LAP as an organization is appealing to its members, friends and well-wishers to mobilize funds which we shall donate to the Anambra State Government coronavirus account. Beyond this, the LAP leadership is committed to the eradication of the ignorance and cynicism which are huge stumbling blocks to the Government’s efforts against the pandemic.”

Mr. Okoli while regretting that too many people unfortunately, dismissed the coronavirus scourge as a hoax or an exaggeration, he went on to say “but we know it is not so, at least from the evidence of the apocalyptic death rates in Italy and the United States as presented on the television.”

“Members of LAP are therefore enjoined to speak to and convince the doubting members of their families and friends and communities to treat the pandemic with the seriousness it deserves by strictly complying with the government’s directives regarding individual and group conduct. Given their influence and closeness to the masses, churches, town and village unions and traditional rulers should kindly aggressively reinforce the government’s directives and the compelling need for compliance.

“They should also help to organize provision of essential needs for the most vulnerable members of the society to augment government’s effort in that regard. It is in the foregoing vein that we find some encouragement from a video clip in the internet where the Igwe of Ojoto, presumably, was shown dispersing the large crowd at a funeral; leaving only the officiating priests and close family members of the deceased as directed by Anambra State Government.

“It is important that Government at all levels shows transparency and fairness in the distribution of palliative commodities, whether cash or kind. This will encourage more people to heed the government’s calls for donations. Given certain factors like high population density (second to only Lagos State), the commercial inclinations of the residents and their high international exposure, Anambra State deserves particular attention of the Federal Government; just as the Anambra State Government should strive even more to rise to the occasion. There should therefore be set up as a matter of utmost urgency at least one coronavirus test center in the state”, he stated.

He however advised that the federal and state governments should also seize this opportunity to advance industrial capacity in relevant fields, including especially in the area of garment, pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing even as he contended that face masks, hand gloves and medical workers’ protective gear were all within the capacity of the local industries.

He continued, “It is noteworthy that the United States Government has engaged General Motors to urgently produce ventilators in great quantities. Innoson Vehicles Ltd has reportedly claimed the capacity to produce ventilators and has expressed willingness to do so if engaged by the Government. The Government should initiate discussions with the company immediately for the production of ventilators. Indeed if, as we pray, that we do not have many victims needing ventilators in countries like Italy and the United States, then we could export to them and earn much needed foreign exchange. We recollect that the same Innoson came to the rescue of the Nigerian Air force by fabricating braking systems for some of their old combat aircrafts when the needed parts were difficult to procure overseas.

“Finally, the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how so interconnected and interdependent our world is, and the need for cooperation by everyone. We all need one another. Everyone is important and the situation demands each and every one not only to be very careful, but to also care for the weak and vulnerable by helping them with all at our disposal, material and otherwise including words of encouragement.”

Photo: Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano.

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