The Federal Government has said that the wearing of face mask is a law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and which must be enforced as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 31st joint national briefing of the taskforce.
He also said that contrary to reports, Nigeria did not order for the Madagascar herbal solutions for COVID-19, but that it was an offer by the Madagascan President.
“There is a question that has to do with usage of facemasks, whether it was optional or not, no. The fact that we are persuasive does not mean that there is an option to it.
“It was part of the declaration that was signed by Mr. President. All the protocols that was predicted by the authority vested on Mr. President by the Quarantine Act. And once he attested his signature to that, it has the force of law.
“Our appeal is that this is a collective effort that each and every Nigerian to be responsible to himself and other Nigerians to wear a mask, not necessarily a medical mask. That is why we said mask or cloth covering, so that our people would not be going to pick things from the dust bin and be hanging on their faces,” Mustapha said.
According to him, even a handkerchief can serve the purpose, thus, it is not in any way an optional but a must.
He added, “And we are appealing to the security agencies and the state governments and sub national entities who have the power of enforcement to do that. It is very important that we inculcate the culture of doing things to the overall benefits of all.”
Also Speaking on the Madagascar herbal solutions, the SGF said it was an offer which Nigeria accept in the spirit of African brotherhood.
He said, “Nigeria did not asked for the Madagascar solution, the Madagascar government decided to airlift quantities meant for African countries. That of West Africa was taken to Guinea Bissau so all the members of ECOWAS have their commodities offloaded in Guinea Bissau and that was the one I referred to that we were making arrangements to evacuate.
“But the impression out there is as if we abandoned homegrown solution and we were looking for Madagascar solution. We didn’t ask for it, but it was taken in the spirit of African brotherly love to Guinea Bissau and we’ve asked our ambassador there to establish the location, the quantity and he has done that.
“We have to make arrangements for its freighting out of Guinea Bissau, but there are no flights. So there so many things we have to consider. If we are freighting it through air cargo, that has its process. So can you please help us explain it to Nigerians that Nigeria did not ask for it. It was brought for West African countries, similarly for other parts of Africa,” Mustapha said.
He said that the consignment meant for West Africa was dropped in Guinea Bissau and every ECOWAS member nation has been asked to go to Guinea Bissau and pick their portions.
He declared that that was not the government priority for now, as the nation is more concerned about contain the spread of the virus in the country.
“We will do that, but that does not in any way downplay what we have asked our researchers and scientists to do. In the last one or more week, I have consistently made this appeal, and for those that are in the field of development in medicine and different inventions, they know the protocol. I can tell you that I get letters on a daily basis, telling me that ‘I have this invention’.
“That is not the protocol, the protocol is to submit these things to the appropriate organisation that has the responsibility, that is established by government through an Act of Parliament, for it to go through the processes of validation. It is not the responsibility of the task force to validate these things.
“So, my appeal to out scientists and our researchers; don’t bother sending them to the task force, send them to the institutions that have been set up by government to do their job and we know the institutions. NAFDAC is there, it is a body recognised and acknowledged all over the world. Not only for homegrown cures, anything you want to bring into this country; be it food or drugs, you must subject it to the validation process of NAFDAC and that is why all items carry NAFDAC number,” Mustapha said.