By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Inter Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) has urged the 18 registered political parties to close their secretariats for two weeks as part of measures to control the spread of Coronavirus.
In a statement issued by the chairman of IPAC, Leonard Ezenwa, the Council commended the African Action Congress (AAC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) for shutting their Secretariats in support of the efforts to stop the COVID-19 spread and urged other parties to do likewise.
IPAC also applauded the lndependent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for suspending regular activities and bye-elections in response to fear of the Coronavirus scourge, even as it however, urged the Commission to intensify preparations for the conduct of Edo and Ondo State Governorship elections.
The statement said “The elections will be a litmus test for the Commission’s preparedness for the 2023 general election. The people of Edo and Ondo States desire and deserve free, fair, credible, transparent and acceptable elections to choose their leaders.
“IPAC calls on all Senators and House of Representatives members and all public office holders to immediately proceed to designated hospitals for Coronavirus screening as they have been traveling abroad as part of their oversight function, international engagements and have been interacting with their colleagues who recently returned from overseas trips.
“It is inconceivable that some national legislators refused to be screened at airports when they returned. IPAC condemns in strong terms this arrogant posturing in the midst of Coronavirus pandemic.”
IPAC also urged Government at all levels to provide stay-at-home packages for Nigerians who are forced to stay away from their workplaces and camps, including civil servants and youth corpers for the period they are directed to be at home.
It said the Federal Government should equally provide free face masks and sanitizers to Nigerians in this trying period. Government should also focus on the Nigerian Correctional Centres to ensure that the virus does not find its way into the prisons due to their deplorable facilities that will further endanger the lives of the inmates.
“A special tasks force should be set up to control the spread of Coronavirus in Nigerian prisons. China adopted a multifaceted approach in tackling the virus by deploying the military and other security agents to combat the disease.
“The Federal Government should embrace this option and also ensure that our gallant soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgents are well equipped with necessary tools like face masks, sanitizers, overall gears etc, to help them tackle the virus
“IPAC urges the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Government to quickly establish 12 level-3 laboratories across the Federation for screening of COVID-19, two in each geopolitical zone in States that are convenient to the people to access.
“Security agents should be alert to ensure that criminals do not take advantage of this global emergency situation to terrorize the people. Relevant authorities should also impound overloaded vehicles and arrest the drivers. This will help to check the spread of the virus.
“IPAC commends some preventive measures recently announced by the Federal Government though belated. With 40 cases of Coronavirus and one death as at 24th March, Nigerians have woken up to the reality of this dreaded disease.
“The closure of land borders, sea ports and most airports are steps in the right direction as we join the global community to stop the ravaging Coronavirus from further decimating mankind”, the statement said.