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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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Bauchi PRP elects Bar Ahmed Gwadabe new State Chairman, affirms loyalty to Falalu Bello

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The Bauchi State Chapter of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has elected Barrister Ahmed Umar Farouq Gwadabe as the new State Chairman of the party following the exit of Alhaji Shehu Barau Ningi who defected to APC.

The state chapter of the party also reiterated its satisfaction and confidence in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party under the National Chairmanship of Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR for repositioning and taking the party to greater heights.

These were contained in a communiqué signed by 11 members of the State Executive Committee including the State Vice Chairman, Ibrahim Sambo, and released to newsmen after a meeting held on Friday in Bauchi.

The communiqué explained that 11 out of 16 members of the State Executive Committee voted in favour of Barrister Ahmed Umar Farouq Gwadabe.

Part of the communiqué reads: “After comprehensive and fruitful deliberations on all the issues tabled before the meeting, the members of the State Executive Committee have resolved as follows:

“That the State Executive Committee has accepted the resignation of the former Chairman of the party in person of Alhaji Shehu Barau Ningi from the position of Bauchi State Chairmanship of the party and wished him success in his future endeavors.

“That the State Executive Committee has appointed Barrister Ahmed Umar Farouq Gwadabe as the new State Chairman of the party pending convention.

“That the State Executive Committee of the party, on behalf of the Bauchi State Chapter of the party, has reaffirmed its loyalty, satisfaction and confidence in the leadership of the Party’s National Executive Committee [NEC] under the Chairmanship of Alh. Falalu Bello for repositioning and taking the party to greater heights.”

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Failure of governance begets youth unrest, says PRP

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The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has disclosed that the ongoing youth unrest is an expression of failure of governance.

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

The full statement reads, “For about two weeks now the streets of our cities have become ungovernable spaces occupied by rival gangs of young (and not so young) men and women protesting against one aspect or another of the actions and in-actions of governments. A discontent which started initially on social media as a protest against police brutality has now snowballed into peaceful – and not-so-peaceful – agitations against a myriad of issues ranging from demands for the abolition of the notoriously brutal Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) of the Police Force to issues of Restructuring, Electoral Reforms and even hoisting of pro market economic policies on Nigerian Population and lately the resignation from office of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The largely nonplus and incompetent handling of the agitation by the Government has not helped matters. The decision to succumb to the pressure mounted by the protestors by agreeing to scrap SARS only to immediately replace it with a so-called SWAT not only demonstrated official duplicity but the Government’s lack of faith. Similarly, President Buhari’s failure to come out openly to address the nation on the specific demands made by the protesting youth has only demonstrated the absence of any articulate or coherent response to the challenges posed by the young men and women demanding for greater accountability from the present political leadership. In the circumstances, the latest attempted violent clampdown by the authorities (which include the imposition of curfews, and the sponsoring of rival gangs of pro-government thugs, etc.) can only worsen an already very dicey situation.

“One fact is critically clear in all the chaos, destruction and blood-letting that has attended the ongoing dissent of the youth. The upheaval is a direct consequence of the utter failure of governance in the country – a failure which may not have originated with the present APC Administration, but which this Administration has undoubtedly done little or nothing to assuage; and which, in many instances, it has even worsened. This is as true of the worsening insecurity in the country as it is of the increasing poverty, unemployment, crime and infrastructural decay, to mention just a few.

“The PRP does not believe that the present APC Administration, or even the ruling class of which it is part and parcel of, has what it takes or even the will or credibility, to assuage or mollify the legitimate anger of our protesting young citizens. However, there is need to do something in the interim to calm down frayed nerves and to prevent the agitations from degenerating into ethnic, religious and regional mayhem and antagonisms along the traditional fault lines of Nigeria prebendal elite politics. Some of the measures that Government must consider taking immediately with a view to calming down the frayed nerves of our agitated youth must include the formal inauguration of a Marshall Plan-like programme that would provide employment for our youth, a declaration of a State-of-Emergency in the education, skills acquisition and manpower development sectors with guaranteed increased funding, and the initiation of a short and medium-term massive public works programme, particularly in the provision and rehabilitation of infrastructural facilities and social services at both federal and state government levels. Some of the massive foreign loans being acquired by Government should be devoted to these projects.

“What we are asking for may be a tall order for the current Administration in this country but we nonetheless say it as there seems to us no other rational or reasonable way out!”

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PRP Board of Trustees Expresses Confidence In Falalu Bello-Led Exco

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The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has passed a vote of confidence on the party’s National Executives led by Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR.

The members of the board made this known in a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

The communiqué, which had the signatures of former Minister of Commerce, Engr. Mustapha Bello, Dr. Segun Falope, Engr. Chris Onyeodizuchu, Alhaji Aji Mala, among others, revealed that the meeting was specifically summoned to consider urgent current developments within the party.

Part of the communiqué further reads: “After exhaustive, frank and fruitful deliberations on all the issues tabled before the meeting, the members of the BOT have resolved as follows:

“To express and convey the PRP BOT’s absolute confidence in, and satisfaction with, the leadership of the Party’s National Executive Committee [NEC] under the Chairmanship of Alh. Falalu Bello and with its strenuous and focused efforts at repositioning the PRP for greater relevance and impact in the Nigerian political space.

“To unreservedly endorse the Programmes of Action approved and rolled out by both the National Executive Committee [NEC] and National Working Committee [NWC] of the PRP covering the period August 2020 August 2021 which will culminate with the holding of the Party’s National Convention.

“To condemn in clear and unmistaken terms attempts by a few misguided and errant elements within the Party to create dissent, misunderstandings and factions within the PRP, noting in particular that this is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Party’s extant constitutional provisions and Code of Conduct for members which explicitly frown at all anti-Party activities and conduct likely to embarrass the Party or bring the Party into hatred, contempt, ridicule or disrepute.”

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