The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has accused the Alliance for the Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) of making false claims about Nigeria’s response to the pandemic to justify donor funding.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO noted as a sad commentary the fact that the Femi Falana-led group plays to the gallery in rubbishing the Federal Government’s Covid-19 response strategy driven by internationally acclaimed epidemiologists.
“It would be amusing, were we not in the middle of a global health crisis, that a muck-raking, human rights lawyer with absolutely no clue about the novel coronavirus strain is sounding off like an authority and making claims that have no basis in logic or fact about the Nigerian authorities’ response to the pandemic.
“It could only be this group which relies on the distortion of a country’s report and misrepresentation of facts as a basis to qualify for donor funding, for instance, that will fail to appreciate that the country had ramped up its testing capacity nationwide from five public laboratories in February 2020 when it recorded its first case to sixty as at July of the same year.
“It is highly irresponsible for the Falana-led ASCAB to make spurious claims about diminishing test kits and a weak campaign strategy when the facts on the ground showed that the reverse is the case. It would be interesting to know how this group came to that conclusion.
“The group is free to take any position in the debate as to whether the mingling crowds at the National Identity Management Centre (NIMC) offices have assumed super spreader status, but when considered alongside the crowd of fun-seekers rounded up by the Police at Night clubs in Lagos, or the mammoth crowd at the Elegushi Beach also in Lagos on New Year’s day despite all the public awareness campaigns, it becomes clear that members of the public equally bear responsibility for the rising infection rate in this second wave.
BMO outrightly dismissed ASCAB’s claim that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria has been elite-driven. “This is the reckless and unsubstantiated assertion you would expect from NGO veterans under pressure to justify unmerited dollar-denominated funding.”
The group said: “it is indeed laughable that a so-called alliance against the pandemic in the country does not know that testing and treatment of Covid-19 patients at public hospitals is absolutely free of charge. It beggars belief that anyone could describe government response as ‘elite-driven’ when an average Nigerian does not have to pay to either be tested or be treated in public health facilities.
“If the Falana-led group is indeed on the ground, it would have known that whereas private hospitals are charging as much as N10m for Covid-19 treatment, patients have been receiving quality care at government-owned hospitals at no cost.
“The group’s claim that the 100,000 doses of vaccines expected in the first quarter of this year will go to the rich and not to frontline health workers, is false, mischievous and calculated to paint this administration in a bad light. The government has already outlined the criteria for administering the first batch of vaccines received, and the logic sits well with the larger public.
“By now, it has become clear to the Nigerian public that ASCAB has derailed from its original lofty concept as a coalition partnering with public and private sector drivers to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in the country. ASCAB has sadly descended into the cesspit of lies, distortion of facts, and misrepresentation of reality to suit a pre-set narrative that attempts to devalue the hard work of professional healthcare workers and administrators who have done a commendable job in saving lives.
“Since it is obvious that there is no greater danger to public safety than a group which would say anything to satisfy donor agencies, we would suggest a few agenda to ASCAB; to acquaint itself more with the activities of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), frontline health personnel, emergency workers and first responders who are doing a stellar job keeping Nigerians safe and healthy; to lobby foreign governments and global drug manufacturers for more Covid-19 vaccines delivered to Nigeria, and to stick to the truth. because BMO will be watching.
BMO also urged Nigerians to continue to believe in President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership and the able support of the NCDC and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to manage the pandemic in the country.