Fri. Jun 5th, 2020

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Hogwash, Pretensive, Badly Recorded, Insensitive To Issues At Hand – AAC Reacts To Buhari’s Coronavirus Address

5 min read

The African Action Congress (AAC) has reacted to President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari’s speech on the issue of coronavirus pandemic.

The party calls Buhari’s speech hogwash, pretensive, badly recorded, and very insensitive to the actuality of the issues at hand.

Read the full statement below:

(Being a statement of the African Action Congress (AAC)

We have just listened to the much expected speech of President Muhammadu Buhari, and we are not disappointed.

The speech is hogwash, pretensive, badly recorded, and very insensitive to the actuality of the issues at hand! On the medical measures so far, what the president hampered on is the lockdown of Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun. And also the fact that there are interventions of #50billion from the government and also on centralizing contributions and donations.

We believe these medical measures are largely incompetent and paltry. We expect a serious government to announce much more massive measures beyond the three states on lock down. The government must come out clean on buying anti-coronavirus medical equipments which is obviously lacking in the isolation centres especially in Lagos.

There are not ventilators neither are there massive and advanced medical appliances in place. So, if the ministry of health is depending on the experiment in Lagos, there is a serious disaster waiting to happen! AAC warns that these dramatic and hogwash engagements of the medical interventions is going to worsen the situations if lessons from UK, US, Spain, France, and Italy is anything to go by.

Who can survive at home for that long? The priorities for the poor remain the same – how to obtain food, water and housing for their families and friends. We also need electricity and data to stay in touch with our friends, families and colleagues. We need testing and tracing to contain the virus and free healthcare for all with protective equipment for all health workers.

In order for people to remain at home, there must be income security for all. Employers must continue to pay salaries or grant sick leave while employees are restricted to their homes, and where continued salaries are impossible, the government must provide workers with income protection for wages lost during the pandemic.

There must be a moratorium on retrenchments during this time. Self-employed, casual workers and those whose income is suspended at this time must be supported by the government to prevent job-seeking movement and people taking the virus back to their villages.
All households, residential institutions, the homeless and the informally housed must have access to food.

If we are to stay at home during this time, access to nutritious food is fundamental. The absence of the School Feeding Programme will hit many children hard. A coordinated and safe roll-out of free food packages directly to distribution points in food-stressed neighbourhoods must be implemented. Support for locally-organised food systems must be strengthened.

Essential private facilities must be appropriated for public use to provide a unified and fair distribution of essential goods and services to all
Federal and state resources need to be focused and deployed in order to combat the epidemic.

Essential services – health centres, food services, water and sanitation etc – should be identified for urgent support and extension. This may require the conversion of factories and other places of production to produce sanitiser, protective clothing, water tanks, soap, food parcels, ventilators and other essential medical equipment.

The public and private health systems need to be regarded as one national health system and coordinated in the national and public interest, also through state appropriation if necessary, as Spain recently demonstrated.

Finances may have to be mobilised through unconventional means such as compulsory national bonds or loans, reforms to tax structures and others. Regulations on price hikes should be implemented.

Community self-organisation and local action is critical, as it our representation in national coordination
Civic organisations, community structures, trade unions and faith-based organisations will be extremely important in organising on the ground during this emergency.

We must all take action where we are. Local trade union structures must be engaged, supported and given representation on state and Federal planning bodies. The distribution of reliable information, essential services and care for our people will require a massive coordinated effort from trade union and community leaders.

Volunteers must be trained and organised for safe, coordinated, campaigns at street-level and for those living in institutions. Middle-class and wealthy communities and organisations have an obligation to make resources available to poor and working-class communities.
We must identify strategies to calm tensions and divert violence in our homes.

We feel that the whole measures on Traders’ Money, schools Feeding Programme, and conditional cash Transfer are all a cruel repitions of the pre-2019 elections fake economic reforms.

Finally, we ask President Buhari to stop the copy-cat madness of “thanking health workers”. This is replica of the Boris Johnson and Trump farcical addresses. What health workers need is an increased salary and allowances to reflect the period. Health workers also need these benefits alongside security workers who will have to work with the health workers in these deadly engagements.

AAC concludes that the presidential speech is quite clownish and farcical as it never really engage the issues actually. The reliance on donations and private contributions is a classical misnomer replica of an NGO government. The economic interventions are a repition of the failed past- an epidemic assertion of perpetuating mass hunger especially for Nigerians who will be kept in doors by force!

This is the time to nationalize the health care, digitalise schooling instead of reinforcing a clandestine feeding system. This is also the time to activate Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) to at least #100, 000 to all citizens.
We must prevent a fascist, authoritarian and security-focused approach in containing the virus.
We must agigate against the indiscriminate deployment of the military and police to create security tension in our communities. We must also prevent against creating scapegoats to blame for the current crisis. Instead, we must ensure that care and resources are provided for the safety and protection of all who live in our communities and in our country.  

Victory is certain!

Ken Henshaw,
Deputy National Chair.


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