THE ongoing lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Lagos and Ogun States may continue for as long as necessary, President Muhammadu Buhari hinted on Saturday.

The lockdown may even be extended to more states as the total confirmed cases in the country reached 318 last night.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has, on his own, ordered that the state be shut down immediately.

Violators of the lockdown will be arrested, he said.

His Kano State counterpart, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, directed tricycle operators in the state to carry only one passenger for now following the detection of an infection in the state -a 75 year old man described as a retired ambassador.

Buhari in a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said made afresh appeal to Nigerians to endure the harsh realities of some of the conditions imposed in the fight against Coronavirus.

He said all countries of the world are currently fighting for their own survival and Nigeria’s help will come from no other country but from Nigerians themselves.

While appreciating Nigerians for their understanding so far, he warned that the current lockdown in parts of the country might be extended.

The original 14-day lockdown in the FCT and Lagos and Ogun States should have ended on Tuesday.

He said: “we realize that today, there will be sons and daughters unable to visit their parents, and elders that are isolated from young ones. And there will be those who live day-to-day, eating as they earn, who face real and present suffering.

“No elected government could ask more of the citizens of the country that elected them than today we ask of you. But we must ask you – once more – to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place, and follow the instructions of our scientists and medical advisers: stay home, wash your hands, save lives.

“The freedoms we ask you to willingly forsake today will only last as long as our scientific advisers declare they are necessary. But they are essential – world over – to halt and defeat the spread of this virus.

“For those who suffer most egregiously, the Government has announced multiple measures to assist: 70,000 tonnes of grain is being released from the National Strategic Grain Reserves for distribution to those in most need; distribution of small cash payments are also being made, and will continue to be made by the federal government in the states and local government areas.

“We ask you to listen and follow public announcements via the mass media for instructions as to how to receive this government support – and learn of more public assistance in the coming days.

“All that the Government is asking you to endure is because nowhere in the world today is there any known way of defeating this pandemic. There is no vaccine. And that means there are choices to be made: between continuing as usual, or accepting the restrictions even when they come with unintended consequences.

“But at this darkest hour, it remains our duty to offer you the full and unvarnished truth: This is a global pandemic. 210 countries and territories across the globe are affected. We cannot expect others to come to our assistance. No one is coming to defeat this virus for us.

“Instead, the defeat of the virus in our country will be in our hands, alone. We cannot wait for others. We can only depend on ourselves now. And so we must – and we will – end this outbreak ourselves as Nigerians, together.”

Pandemic ravages 19 states, FCT

The Nation gathered last night that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which met with Buhari on Friday recommended an extension of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

Some stakeholders are also said to be pushing for an Executive Order for a total lockdown nationwide because of the poor attitude of some state governors to the pandemic.

It was gathered that the President might look into other indices at his disposal.

The President may make his position known today, according to a reliable source

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the PTF, which submitted its report to the President on Friday, was of the opinion that Coronavirus pandemic was getting to its peak in Nigeria.

The task force was of the view that since the pandemic was assuming community spread mark, the lockdown should be extended by one week or two weeks.

A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The Presidential Task Force actually on Friday submitted an evaluation report to the President bordering on COVID-19, the pandemic status in Nigeria and the preventive measures put in place, especially the lockdown.

“The President is looking into the report and other factors at his disposal. He is looking at all options in the best interest of the country.

“While some are calling for the extension of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, other stakeholders have demanded the extension of the measure to all the 36 states of the federation.

“As a matter of fact, the President may make his position known. It may not necessarily be through a national broadcast, it can only be through a statement.”

The Federal Ministry of Health confirmed on Twitter that COVID-19 is now ravaging 19 states and the FCT.

It also said the Federal Government was looking at in-country capacity for medical supplies due to global shortage.

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