By Musa Adamu
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said some states have made false claims over the number of COVID-19 infected persons in order to attract attention and get huge amount of money from Federal Government.
Professor Ango Abdullahi, the Convener of the forum in a statement on Thursday, in Kaduna, said with the little resources available, the country can turn around its fortune of this nation in transparent and professional manner, but some states were playing politics of number with the current situation with a view to divert attention.
He added that what the country needed at the moment were good policies and facilities that would protect the citizenry.
The statement reads in part, “The forum regrets the appearance of attempts by many state governments to play politics with numbers for what appears to be expectations that more funds from Federal Government and foreign donors will be allocated to them.
“It is public knowledge that what the entire nation needs are good policies that protect all Nigerians; equipment and facilities for testing and treatment and resources to support people who will find it hard to stay at home without some palliatives during lockdowns.
“The forum acknowledges the assistance, in funds and equipment, from the international community. These gestures of support for our efforts at a time when they face their own problems are particularly appreciated, and it is important that our governments put them to prompt and effective use.
“The Forum similarly appreciates the tremendous assistance of Nigerian individuals and corporate bodies in this fight.
“We hope that all governments will utilise the vast assets in expertise, goodwill and integrity available in the private sector and professional groups and individuals in the country and involve them in all stages in the fight against this pandemic.
“These requirements can be met with resources currently available, but they need to be put at the service of the public in a transparent and professional manner.
“Policies that waste progress in some parts of the country and others which trample on the rights of vulnerable groups must be discouraged. States should adopt policies that suit their peculiarities, but the nation as a whole must agree on, and implement basic policies that protect the entire population,” it said.
“In particular, we commend the decision to deploy a strong medical team to, among others, verify the causes of many deaths that are being popularly attributed to the pandemic as well as assist the government of Kano State to improve its facilities, investigations and treatment of suspected infections and those who are infected.
“We cannot overemphasise the need for government of Kano State to take steps to regain confidence and support of the citizens of the state; to open its medical assets and give medical personnel the protection and confidence and other resources they need, and support the population to stay at home and observe other regulations with material support.
“Government of Kano State also needs to improve its strategic communication strategies. These will include higher levels of openness with regard to causes of recent deaths and more effective means of convincing the public over the realities of the dangers we all face,” the forum said.