President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed worries over reports of non-compliance with the Executive Order he signed recently that makes mask-wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory, appealing to Nigerians to give their maximum cooperation for success of the policy.
He introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens, said a press statement issued on Sunday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
The President therefore appealed to State Governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitization and enforcement of the Executive Order.
“To achieve this, COVID-19 task forces and committees should persuade members of the public to cooperate with the government in achieving compliance and avoid crude methods that may create resistance and resentment, thereby defeating the primary goal of the Executive Order.
“The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lockdown the country and continues to emphasize the non-pharmaceutical measures and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force.
“Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day- to-day business.
“Nigerians are required to wear masks, wash hands regularly with soap and clean water, and keep safe distance with anybody not in your household, hoping that this will help check spread of COVID-19.
“Though vaccine availability is within reach, the propensity of the public for noncompliance weakens the fight against the virus.
“Nigerians must ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.
“We have a duty to protect ourselves and others in this difficult global health crisis; no one has immunity against this pandemic. Ignoring health warnings and refusing to comply with safety measures does more harm than good.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a major threat to public health and wearing of masks, social distancing in public places and the basic hygiene are necessary measures that have to be taken to safeguard the well-being of our citizens.
“Nigerians must always have it in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a threat to the health of the population but it is equally so to the national economy, and to every aspect of our everyday life.
“Protecting public health is one of the sacred duties of any responsible government and the administration will not abdicate that responsibility”, the statement added.