By Dan-Maryam Zayuma
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have assured that they will support the federal government to implement the outcomes of the National COVID-19 summit.
Representative of the CSOs in Nigeria at the 2-day summit in Abuja, Monday, the Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr. Aminu Magashi, said that the CSOs attach great importance to the summit which is aimed at assessing the effort of Nigeria in the COVID-19 response and ensuring health security.
The 2-day summit was organised by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.
Earlier, Nigeria’s renown medical expert, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, while speaking at the summit broke down in tears because he believes that Nigerian leaders are not doing enough to move the country forward.
The summit has five main objectives which include reviewing the country’s COVID-19 response from February 2020 to November 2021- to identify successes, gaps, and lessons to be learnt; identify resources and develop strategies that will actualize the country’s expressed international commitments towards ending COVID-19 by 31st December 2022; and develop an Accountability Framework for COVID-19 response and health security in Nigeria.
Other objectives of the summit include to synthesize the blueprint for Nigeria’s pandemic recovery, reconstruction, health security, and sustainability; and articulated actionable recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari on the governance structure, resources, and policies needed to end COVID-19 in Nigeria by 31st December 2022, and build back the health system and the economy to better respond to future health-security threats.
“I want to assure Nigerians that CSOs in the country are fully committed to support the Federal government and the PSC to implement the recommendations that will come out of this summit.,” he said.
Dr. Magashi insisted that these are serious expected outcomes and therefore called on participants to sacrifice their time and effort to discuss the five objectives of the summit.
“I want assure the PSC chair that the CSOs are going to be around in the journey ahead. The same way we supported the federal government to organised the summit, we will be around throughout the journey to support the government to implement the recommendations.
“So, Prof. Tomori, I want to give you the assurances that we are going to support the federal government to implement everything that is going to be agreed upon in this summit.
“I want to appeal to all of us to stay throughout today and tomorrow so that we can have very strong recommendations to support the federal government of Nigeria to deliver the mandate of COVID-19 response and health security. “
Earlier, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Boss Mustapha, disclosed that the COVID-19 National Response has been driven by what he described as a multi-sectoral process which facilitated expansive and in-depth consideration of issues as well as speedy decision making.
Commending the role played by non state actors including the civil societies in the fight against the pandemic, the SGF stressed that “the process enjoyed the overwhelming support of the partners from the private sector and the international community. “Through these partners, Nigeria was able to put in place critical infrastructure nationwide, procure scarce medical equipment, test kits, and personal protective materials, etc.
“We are here to assess the level of impact of our National Response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better.
It would be recalled that in his address at the summit, Prof. Tomori broke down in tears, because, according to him,, the country was not moving the way it should.
He noted that Global Health Security must be built on the foundation of National Health Security and the National Health Security must be laid on the foundation of individual or personal health security.
The renown medical expert revealed that Nigeria’s underdevelopment and backwardness rest on four pillars.
The four pillars which he described as the real enemies of Nigeria, according to him, include “lack of patriotism, the main destroyer of our nation; self-interest, the burial ground of our national interest; corruption, the executor of our orderly development and shamelessness, the destruction of our national pride.”
He insisted that: “Over the last 60 years, these diseases, all affecting our culture, have become the combined endemic demolisher of the foundation of our individual health security which has shaken the foundation of our national health security and in turn determined our irrelevance as a nation in contributing meaningfully to global health security.
“Anytime I have Nigeria on my mind, I speak with passion, I am deeply emotional, there is a fever in my body, pain wracks my whole body and I have to hold on to something to steady my stand.
“I have wept for this country on several occasions, I will try not to do so today. You must be wondering why. I owe this country much more than I can ever pay back.
“I grew up in the UN, Utopia Nigeria, for indeed at that time, Nigeria was my UTOPIA. It will be an insult to call my father polygamous, he was MULTIGAMOUS. The number of his wives that I know is more than all the excellencies, honourables and dignitaries in the high table and front row.
“I came in as number 39 in the list of his children. We were being bred as hands for his farm. Then, we had good governance just before the colonial masters left.
“The government of Obafemi Awolowo introduced free primary education in my region. It was not only free, but it was also compulsory giving my father the choice of sending me to school or going to prison.
“He took the simpler way out and sent me to school. From that singular act, began my journey of indebtedness to my country.
“After the free education in my village close to Ilesha, now in Osun State, I took an entrance examination and got admitted on partial scholarship to the Government College Ughelli, now in Delta State-nobody followed me to the exam hall or interview, from there I moved on to ABU Zaria on full federal scholarship to read Veterinary Medicine.
“All my education was done in Nigeria. Going to Ughelli from Ilesha, a 2-day journey was in the ARMELS transport, without any escort.
“Our parents handed us over to the driver, with money for our food. If there was any change, the driver would hand over the money to our parents on his return journey through our town.”
By Dan-Maryam Zayuma