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No Invoice from Madagascar for Herbal Drug, FG Insists

The federal government has denied receiving any invoice from Madagascar in respect of the consignment of the herbal mixture touted as a cure for COVID-19, which was delivered at the weekend to Buhari by the President of Guinea Bissau, President Umaru Embalo, who was in Abuja on an official visit.

Reports had claimed that the Indian Ocean Island country had handed Nigeria an invoice of 170,000 Euros (N78 million) as the cost of five cartons of COVID- organics.

But Mustapha said at the press briefing that he did not receive any invoice for the drugs.

"In terms of the question of whether it comes with a cost, well it was handed to me without an invoice. So, I assume it doesn't come at any cost. That is my assumption. For that, I think the Madagascar issue and the Chinese issue should be laid to rest because these two issues are not central to the problem that we have at hand now. So, we should try as much as possible to minimise the judicious use of our time to deal with important issues.

"I am going to engage the Minister of Health who has the responsibility of validation through his institutions that are chartered by law to do that and the president was upfront with that even when he took the delivery from the President of Guinea-Bissau. He said it quite clear that what we were going to do with the consignment will be guided by science. After the processes of validation, we will now know where to go," Mustapha stated.

He urged Nigerians to learn from the history of global pandemic, notably the plaque of 1919-20, which was replete with evidence of an exponential rise in pandemic upon early lifting of restrictions.

Mustapha said the decision by the federal government to extend the curfew and restrict interstate movements for another two weeks until June 1, was inspired by caution, current experiences from different countries and the lesson from the influenza pandemic of 1919, which claimed more than five million souls following a spike in the cases after restrictions were lifted.

"This well-considered decision was taken out of an abundance of caution, current experiences from different countries and expert advice. I must add also that we were persuaded by the history of global pandemics because it is replete with evidence of exponential rise in pandemic upon early lifting of restrictions, for which the 1918 – 1920 influenza remains the most recent example in human history.

"Nigeria, judging from these historical perspectives, must in our present approach, delicately maintain a balance between safety and economic considerations before we reopen the economy fully. Again, I wish to repeat that the decision is not punitive; we share your pains and also share your concerns. However, our future remains in our hands and compliance is one of the keys to opening that future," Mustapha said.

National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Aliyu Sani, at the briefing said: "The PTF certainly appreciates the adverse impact this is having on people's livelihood but as I keep on saying, we are trying to balance saving lives with saving livelihood. We are in the process of moving towards further relaxation of the lockdown but as far as the next two weeks are concerned nothing has changed.

"We have been given approval by Mr. President to extend those same conditions we had two weeks ago for very good reasons. One, being that we are not convinced that the time has come in terms of the impact of the pandemic to further relax those restrictions.

"As we all know, the level of compliance with some of those guidelines we have provided has been limited at best in some areas and we have to make sure that whatever we do in terms of taking actions or decisions we do not drag ourselves back to the beginning of the pandemic again. We do appreciate this. It is one of the things, we will continue to consider as we monitor the next two weeks."



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