Covid-19: FG and a pragmatic leader’s swift response

Leadership is nothing until it is people-centered, result-driven and forward-focused. Like linear equation, every action taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus has combined effectively to check the spread of the dreaded virus. 

Coronavirus in Nigeria has revealed three things: that Nigeria, under President Buhari, has returned to the glory days of people-oriented government. For instance, to preserve the lives of Nigerians, President Buhari in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday announced the total lockdown of epicenters of coronavirus in Nigeria. This singular step has been described by analysts as a masterstroke against the spread of the virus.

As a government that abhors haphazard system of administration, the Buhari-led government promptly established a presidential task force centre to brief and manage covid-19 from spreading rapidly. The task force, which is headed by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has worked assiduously to allay the fears of Nigerians. 

Central to the fight against coronavirus is the easy accessibility of testing kits and treatment centres. In order to ensure rapid response, the Buhari-led government has established centres for the test of covid-19 in all states of the federation. The step is seen by many as the most proactive in the history of fight against epidemics anywhere in the world. 

Another critical medical instrument vital to the management and treatment of the covid-19 is ventilators. In a bold move to demonstrate the government’s commitment to chase the virus out of Nigeria, the president ordered immediate distribution of ventilators to all the states of the federation. 

As a testament to the meticulous work the president is doing, the Italian who was the first index case has been treated and discharged even when people in his country are dying in their thousands. Who knows, if the Italian had remained in his country, perhaps, he would have died. But President Buhari’s magic wand saved him.  Beyond the Italian, others have been treated and discharged as well, while some are at various stages of recovery.

All thanks to the proactive National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Mongonu (retd.), who advised the president on the danger of the virus and the need for contingency plans. The lockdown is the way to go, but not without the president rolling out palliative measures to cushion the effects of the action. And because of the NSA’s intelligence gathering skills, the shutdown order by the president is witnessing very impressive compliance by traders and the general public within the nation’s capital, as well as Lagos and Ogun state.

This is a proof that President Buhari’s government is sensitivity to the plight of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria. The president had in his broadcast ordered relevant authorities to commence the implementation of palliative measures to serve as relief on the effect of the lockdown. While announcing the shutdown of Abuja and the two South-west states, Buhari approved two months cash transfer for vulnerable Nigerians, deployment of relief materials to citizens living in suburbs and satellite towns, and two months of food rations in the coming weeks for internally displaced persons, among others.

In line with the pro-Talakawa that he is known for President Buhari has started walking the talk. The federal government has since commenced disbursement of N20, 000 conditional cash transfer to the poorest Nigerians. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk, whose ministry is central to the President Buhari people-focused government, was at the Central Pay Point in Kwali area council, Abuja, on Wednesday for the flag-off.

Apart from the conditional cash transfer, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Nort-east and other parts of Nigeria are not left in the President Buhari relief package, as relief materials are to be immediately supplied to them. 

The devastating effect of covid-19 on the global economy is no longer news. As a proactive government, the president set up economic standards to serve as protection for the country to avoid sliding into another economic recession like South Africa.

 The late anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela, once said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory… You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

The foregoing aptly captures the step by President Buhari and his deputy, Vice, President Yemi Osinbajo to donate 50 per cent of their take home pay towards fighting the virus. When it comes to taking glory, President Buhari leads from behind, but when it comes to taking responsibility, he takes the centre stage. That is the hallmark of sterling leadership. 

Seeing the purity or sincerity of his motives in the fight against covid-19, the business class in Nigeria has effectively keyed into the multiple approach to defeating coronavirus. So far, because of President Buhari, billions have been donated by wealthy men in an act of philanthropic gesture.

For a disease that has infected 874,000 worldwide while   43,300 deaths have been so far recorded to be so contained by Nigeria, President Buhari sure deserves accolades. All that is required is all and sundry to support the efforts of the government to nip the virus in the bud.

– Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning, PSC

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