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Lockdown: PRP expresses concern, offers new strategies

The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has expressed concern over the ongoing lockdown imposed by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The party called for the review of the lockdown and recommended some strategies to the federal and state governments.

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The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has expressed concern over the ongoing lockdown imposed by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The party called for the review of the lockdown and recommended some strategies to the federal and state governments.

This was contained in a press statement signed by the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday evening.

The full statement reads:

“The Peoples Redemption Party [PRP] has received with consternation and utter disappointment, yesterday’s Presidential statement to the Nigerian public by President Muhammadu BuharI [GCFR] confirming the indefinite continuation of lockdowns that governments [both Federal and States] have imposed on most Nigerian cities and States purportedly as a reaction to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The presidential statement, which was released to the public by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated amongst other things that:

(i) Nigerians must continue to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place for as long as “our scientific advisers declare they are necessary”,

(ii) Government has made “multiple” arrangements to assist the most vulnerable amongst the citizenry with, for instance, the distribution of 70, 000 tonnes of grain which is to be released “from the National Strategic Grain Reserve” and the distribution of small cash payments, and

(iii) that since there is no known cure yet for the disease, Nigeria shall not wait for help from elsewhere but end this “outbreak ourselves as Nigerians together”.

The consternation and disappointment of the PRP with President Buhari’s statement arises basically from three critical considerations.

Firstly, from his statement, the President appears not to understand and appreciate the futility and ineffectiveness of lockdowns as a panacea for the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in an economic and social environment such as ours.

Nigeria Covid -19 response strategy with terms such as aggressive enforcement of total lockdown, flattening of the curve, contact tracing, self-isolation, etc, is a very good strategy on paper but has been drawn in total disregard to our environment and circumstances.

Complete lockdown for example may be useful and effective in developed economies and societies as exist in Europe and North America. But in our own environment where infrastructure such as housing, public transportation, sanitation and water supply are at best rudimentary, a wholesale copy of the lockdown template as a strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic is as good as playing the ostrich.

Self-Isolation as another example in most of our houses in our towns and cities where tens of families stay in a house with only a toilet and tap is neither possible nor practicable. The Covid-19 Strategy sold to our President and his Governors is alien to our circumstances, not practicable nor sustainable and should be urgently jettisoned.

Secondly, the President’s statement betrays a complete failure to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health emergency but more appropriately a multi-sectoral challenge, with grave implications and threats to not just the public health but the livelihoods of citizens.

So, to depend, as the President says he is going to do, only on the advices of the “scientific advisers” for the determination of whether and when to lift the restrictions on movements, is to say the least, most ill-advised. As experts in similar climes as ours have argued, complete lockdowns in and by themselves cannot and will not solve the challenges that COVID-19 has unleashed.

Indeed, the lockdown themselves may even compound and worsen the incidence of both contagion and spread by, for instance, weakening the immune system through worsening malnutrition, the herding together of masses of people in congested residential spaces which is what you find in most of our cities and towns, and the overstretching of rudimentary health-care facilities and infrastructures.

Thirdly, President Buhari’s Statement convinces us of the Government’s utter disregard and lack of appreciation of its own low executive capacity. For the President to talk and promise that the Administration is going to distribute lockdown palliatives to the most vulnerable, who largely live from day to day in the interstices of the informal sector of the economy, in the face of gross bungling of the government’s initial efforts in this direction, only goes to betray this disregard of existential realities.

The Nigerian government [both Federal and States] lack the executive capacity to do these in a transparent and effective manner. To begin with, the database that will be used to determine who qualifies for such an intervention and support is just simply not there.

Furthermore, the executive capacity to execute the distribution in an equitable, fair and even- handed manner has simply been shown not to exist. These have been seen in almost all the States  that gave out palliatives to their citizens as well as the fairly tale distribution of N20,000.00 each to 2.6million Nigerians in 4 days by the Federal Government which most people don’t believe.

WAY  FORWARD

In these circumstances, the Peoples Redemption Party [PRP] calls on the Federal and State governments to urgently review the strategies they have so far adopted to confront the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to fashioning out more effective, appropriate and sustainable approaches to managing the Coronavirus challenge.

In more specific terms, the PRP calls on those public institutions to consider adopting the following responses amongst others;

(i) review the lockdown orders restricting movements with a view to relaxing them to allow citizens to go about earning their livelihoods in an orderly and supervised manner,

(ii) procure, subsidize and massively distribute face masks to the public and make the wearing of these compulsory in public spaces until the pandemic is over,

(iii) urgently procure testing kits and make them widely available so that members of the community with individuals suspected of showing symptoms of the disease can have easy access for testing,

(iv) invest massively in the medical infrastructure and training for contact tracing of confirmed cases, their isolation and treatment, as well as the provision of protective gear for health workers,

(v) immediately prepare stimulus packages for sectors of the national economy which are going to be worst affected by the pandemic in the coming months, such as small-holder agriculture, small and medium enterprises, operators in the informal sectors of the economy and selected strategic industries,

(vi) reopening of the public services while maintaining social-distancing in the work-place and commercial operations,

(vii) immediately probe the fairy tale distribution of N20,000.00 each to 2.6 million Nigeriand in 4 days as a means of confirming what happened and as important strengthening the distribution capacity of the Ministry of Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management before engaging them to handle further distribution of palliatives to the needy Nigerian population;

(viii) eliminate police and military brutality coming from the enforcement of the lockdowns reported to have cost across the nation more harm than COVID-19 and resort to counselling and even fine as seen in the jurisdictions we have borrowed our Covid-19 strategy.

We would want to remind Mr President as a General who has read World War 2 which cost humanity over 80 million lives that, it started in Germany with Germans eating from the dust bins and crash of the German economy in 1930. A broken economy which may follow naked lockdowns as we are witnessing without adopting appropriate measures in the midst of small arms that are in the hands of lawless citizens, may result in another Germany in Nigeria because of our huge population. Mr President  please save our people eating from the dust bins.

Finally, it is our belief in the PRP that for President Buhari to continue with the present fixture of lockdown and restriction of movements in the face of the overwhelming evidence that point to the inappropriateness in our specific circumstances and social realities, would be tantamount to playing fiddle while Rome burns!”

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PRP Mourns Alhaji Umar Babankwata of Adamawa State

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The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has expressed sadness over the demise of one of the Adamawa State’s respected elder statesmen and PRP strong pillars, Alhaji Umar Babankwata.

The PRP in a press release signed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Falalu Bello described as shocking, the death of former party’s state chairman whom he said was an ardent nationalist and NEPU stalwart who has led PRP in Adamawa State since its establishment in 1978.

Bello said, “Although he recently retired from his position of State Chairmanship of our great Party, the PRP, his views and advice remained very much sought after by patriotic politicians across the board.

“With his passing, PRP family has lost one of its best and patriotic stakeholders. His sterling leadership qualities, uprightness and sense of diligence will be surely missed by all of us.

“Indeed, Umar Baban Kwata’s death is a painful loss not only to his family and the people of Adamawa state but also to our great party, the PRP and our nation, Nigeria, at large.

“The PRP is particularly pained that Babankwata passed away at a time when his fatherly wisdom and elderly skills were still most needed.

“I therefore, on behalf of the PRP, commiserate with Alhaji Umaru Baban Kwata family, and pray that Allah forgive all his worldly sins, admit him into Jannah of the highest order and grant all his family members the fortitude to bear this painful loss,” he added.

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Professor Jega, Others Task Nigerian Youth on Active Participation in Politics

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Discussing the Nigerian Youth and the of building a just, united and materially advanced nation. The conference which was conducted via ZOOM (a virtual meeting application) on Saturday, 18th of July 2020, was marked by the participation of prominent Nigerians from within and outside Nigeria.

Professor Attahiru Jega who was the first speaker of the occasion discussed the roles of INEC in stabilizing democracy in Nigeria through Free, Fair and Credible Elections. He introduced by emphasizing the needs for youth to be actively engaged in all electoral processes which will improve remarkably well the credence in elections and a consequence of qualitatively better elected executives and representatives, which is an absolute requirement for nurturing good democratic governance and socioeconomic development in Nigeria, he went on to enlightened the public on elections in a liberal democracy, roles of election management bodies and the roles of INEC.

Furthermore, he pointed out some outstanding reforms and improvements needed to be addressed before 2023 in order to improve our electoral processes, and some of the recommendations proffered are;

a. The legal framework needs to be remarkably improved upon. The Electoral Act 2010 As Amended could be said to be better than previous electoral legislations, but it also needs further improvements. This must be done in good time before the 2023 general elections.

b. INEC needs to continuously refine and improve its deployment of technology in the electoral process. At the same time, it has to continuously train and retrain its staff towards requisite professionalism in the management and operational conduct of elections, learning from global best practices.

c. The independence of INEC and, especially, SIECS, administratively and financially need to be strengthened and protected from executive interference and/ or subversion.

d. The fight against corruption and use of money to subvert peoples will and electoral choices need to be made even more vigorously.

e. Political parties need to be repositioned and internally democratized to ensure that good quality candidates emerge democratically for elections. The corrupt roles of the party bureaucrats, “godfathers”, “moneybags”, and Governors, etc., need to be curtailed, with legislation and appropriate sanctions.

Significantly, all stakeholders have to be engaged in the appropriate nurturing of a democratic political culture generally, and electoral integrity specifically. All stakeholders need to recognize that the business of nurturing democracy, good governance and electoral integrity is a collective responsibility. All hands must be joined together on deck, to bring this about.

He reminded the youth of the special role they need to play towards improving the integrity and credibility of our electoral processes and in nurturing and consolidating our democracy towards good governance and sustainable development.

The professor concluded by emphasizing that Youth should be active, constructive and pro actively involve in our electoral and political processes should be a must and that all must dedicate energies in finding ways and means of bringing this to reality as soon as possible.

In his words ‘’As I often say, more and more nowadays, we must stop agonizing and focus on organizing”.
The second speaker Dauda Umaru Adamu, PhD candidate, Rice University, USA, spoke on The Economic Empowerment of Youth Geared Towards Poverty alleviation in Nation Building and adopted a multiple sectoral approach to the topic starting from history to the present.

He stated that Nigeria’s major imports are Refined Petroleum, wheat, and packaged medicants, which are in billions of dollars. Nigeria Still import wheat when out of the 84million hectares of land for farming only 32million hectares is been cultivated at the moment.

He added that young Nigerians are being drown in the Mediterranean in their bid to escape the economic hardship of the country. Lack of jobs, corruption, bad economic policies, lack of care and protection of our local industries are responsible.

He advised that Nigeria should learn from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who after the discovery of oil, used the proceeds to developed other sectors of their economy. Their corruption rate is low unlike Nigeria, the 146th least corrupt country in the world.

Intellectual property is one of the cardinal assets for economic growth. He lay emphasis that failure to develop our educational system tons us of this.
He further asked if our representatives at the world Trade Organization are truly putting forward the interest of our local industries? Do they interact with the small businesses which depend on foreign market to understand their plight?

The Speaker concluded his presentation with the following recommendations:
– There is need to develop our intellectual property to fast track economic growth.

– Revitalization of local industries, boosting our Agricultural and Manufacturing sectors.

– Development and promotion of indigenous businesses and industries. While the third Speaker made us to understand that it is high time youth take the front line in fight to changing the narratives of corruption and maladministration which has kept us in a state of poverty and backwardness.

Engr. Mustafa Bello who was the third speaker presented on the topic ‘’The role of youth in Nation building through mass mobilization’’ started by challenging the youth to take the front line in fight to changing the narratives of corruption and maladministration which has kept us in a state of poverty and backwardness. His presentation was centered on the role of youth and the adverse effects of their refusal to participate in politics.

He advised the youth to take a stand and decide who should and should not be on the saddle of power by pushing forward and supporting credible candidates, that way the narrative of the nation will change in good time, He concluded.

The National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party, Alhaji Falalu Bello in his closing remark appreciated all participants of the conference especially the Guest Speakers and further acknowledging the efforts of the youth leaders for putting up such an amazing program.

He encouraged the youth to do more promising that the National body will fully support subsequent programme alike.

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PRP VS FG: Court Fixes Date For Hearing

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed a date for the hearing of suit filed by the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) against the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government over the lockdown that had been imposed on Nigerians for some months ago by the governments.

The court has, in its ruling by Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Monday, fixed 14th October, 2020 for hearing of the matter.

The court has also ordered service of both the originating summons and hearing notice to be served on the Attorney General of the Federation and the Attorney General of Kaduna State.

It could be recalled that the plaintiffs which include the party’s National Chairman in person of Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR and the National Secretary of the party, Babatunde Alli had, on behalf of the party, sued the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Kaduna State Government over their failure to provide sustainance to citizens locked down during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In an originating summons filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by Barr. Saleh Jibril, the plaintiffs were praying for court’s declaration that persons locked down under the pandemic are entitled to provision of sustenance by the government. The plaintiffs were also praying the court for an order to compel the defendants to provide the necessary sustenance to persons locked down.

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