On the 23rd of March 2020, the Defence headquarters declared that if Nigeria declared a lock-down against Covid-19 like other nations of the world, the Military had available resources to enforce a lock-down.
The Coordinator Defence Media Operations Major General John Enenche said…
“Four of our military centre, hospitals have been put on standby, and they are part of the facilities to support the Federal Ministry of Health. The NAF centre in Abuja here, along the Airport Road, Kaduna reference hospital, Port-Harcourt Military Hospital, and Lagos Creek Hospital. We have four of them on stand-by with the facilities to quarantine and then to eventually treat. As a backup that you are hearing in other countries to enforce, if there is going to be a lockdown, yes we have the resources to ensure that the lock-down is effective if it comes up”
However, on the 25th of March, a Publication in the media revealed that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Army will enforce a lock-down on Friday 27th March 2020.
This news undoubtedly set Nigerians into a panic buying of necessities like food, fuel, cooking gas to ensure survival if eventually there is a lock-down.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in a swift reaction dismissed the allegations through a statement saying…
“It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Army and the General public some misleading publications in a section of the media with the title “Federal Government to Enforce Military Lock-down on Friday.” The Nigerian Army wishes to dissociate itself from such false, speculative and vexatious publication designed by certain mischievous elements to create chaos, panic, and disaffection in the society that could only serve the ulterior motives of its promoters. To put the record straight, the document being quoted was a proactive directive for the Nigerian Army to prepare for a possible escalation of the COVID -19 based on the happenings around the world on the pandemic. The misinterpretation that Government is locking down the entire country and pulling out the Army by Friday 27 March 2020 is utterly false and baseless. The NA considers the publication and negative interpretation being given the content of the classified document containing information meant for the Nigerian Army personnel as a violation of the Official Secret Act.”
The Army maintained it will continue to be professional, proactive and responsive in support of the Constitution, Democracy, and Government of Nigeria in line with its constitutional mandate of providing aid to civil authority when called upon to do so.
“The Nigeria Army will leave no stone unturned to prepare to support the civil authority in times of emergencies of national magnitude. The mischief of some unpatriotic few will not dissuade the Nigerian Army from working with sister services, the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to keep Nigeria Safe. The Nigeria Army calls on the general public to discountenance the publication going round that the Federal Government is locking down Nigeria by Friday 27 March 2020 based on the content of the directive to military formations to take proactive measures to prepare for possible call out to assist the civil authority in the case of COVID-19 getting worse in the Country.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has reiterated that four of its hospitals were ready to assist the Federal Government, with the facilities to quarantine and then to eventually treat a suspected case of Corona Virus.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has embarked on a facility tour of Army Command and Nigeria Army officers wives Association Hospital.
The Acting Director Army Public Relations Colonel Sagir Musa explained in a statement that the hospital is a secondary level healthcare facility capable of providing tertiary care in some areas of special interest such as special care, babies’ management, intensive care management, and radio-diagnostic services. It is expected to fill gaps and complement other military hospitals/health care facilities in the nations’ capital.
Col Musa said the hospital is a brainchild of the President of NAOWA, Mrs Umma-Kalsum Tukur Buratai.
“While inspecting the facilities, General TY Buratai congratulated the NAOWA President, the management and staff of the hospital for their commendable efforts so far. He added that the hospital will go a long way in providing medical care for Nigerians”.
Some of the facilities inspected include specialist clinics, paediatrics, dental, surgery, internal medicine, eye clinic, ante-natal, post-natal, obstetrics, and gynaecology. Others are laboratory equipment capable of haematology, clinical chemistry microbiology, children’s clinic, pharmacy, Accident and Emergency, and Operating Theater as well as maternity and public health centres among others.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Hospital, Major General Ikechukwu Okeke retired, said…
“The Hospital shall liaise with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that necessary guidelines in the prevention and care of COVID 19 are followed, Health education and necessary precautionary measures will be put in place to protect our staff and patients while fighting this scourge, the facility will provide General Outpatient Consultation, Paediatrics, and Dental services among others. It is not a coincidence that this facility is coming on stream at this time when the coronavirus is ravaging the world. Since we find ourselves in this situation, more efforts will be made to put the hospital in a better position to be part of the national response plan“.
Owing to the deadly disease which has claimed the lives of thousands across the globe, states like Kogi, Rivers, and Lagos have shut down owing to the pandemic and the Federal Capital Territory has become a shadow of itself. From the 28th of February when it was reported Nigeria recorded its first case of Covid-19 with the increasing number of the case, the virus has killed one person in Abuja and has had its way into Abuja, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Rivers, and Bauchi states.
While many states yet to record any case may have been taking preventive measures there are reports that Government may likely convert hotels and schools to manage patients infected with the virus.