A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the director general of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Dr. Salihu Lukman, has described as needless and distraction those criticising President Muhammad Buhari over the lockdown in Abuja and Lagos to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
Among those who have openly criticised decision taken by the President include Ebun-Olu Adegborunwa, Femi Falana, Prof. Wole Soyinka, among others
Lukman said the action of the President could be liken to the principles of doctrine of necessity more urgently needed now that human life is at risk.
In a statement the director general released Wednesday in Abuja, said All the energy some critics expend to question the legality of decisions of government to lockdown Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states with the highest potential to spread Covid-19 virus to every part of the country may only serve to distract the attention of government from the critical issue of ensuring effective response to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“The current debate around legality are needless and only confirms Prof. Honig assertion that ‘everything is justifiable and there can be no cause for regret when our survival is at stake.’
“All the energy we expend to question the legality of decisions of government to lockdown these three cities with the highest potential to spread Covid-19 virus to every part of the country may only serve to distract the attention of government from the critical issue of ensuring effective response to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“Rather that asking the question whether locking down Abuja, Lagos and Abeokuta is sufficient to contain the spread of Covid-19, we are seeking to undermine the government. Good enough, our state governments are responding in a way that expand the jurisdiction of the lockdown to cover virtually all parts of the country.”
While describing the situation as one that requires urgent intervention, Lukman said: “If in 2010, our activist lawyers, including Mr. Falana, could come up with doctrine of necessity, in the face of the refusal of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to transmit a letter informing the National Assembly about his medical trip outside Nigeria based on which the then Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan could be empowered to act as President, isn’t the same principles of doctrine of necessity more urgently needed now that human life is at risk so much that we could with all certainty argue that any meeting of the National Assembly is even a potential danger? This is assuming that our constitution and our laws don’t any act of lockdown.
“No need to play to the gallery. Certainly, both Messrs. Adegborunwa, Falana, Soyinka and all those criticising the current lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Abeokuta, may have some unselfish reasons to express opposition. So long as however such opposition is not substantively disputing the efficacy of the lockdown as a strategic requirement for ensuring enforcement of isolation and social distancing in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country, it simply project behavioural discrepancy, which conflict with the new emergency timeline that Covid-19 imposes on the world.
“This is the time when our primary survival instinct should be about saving human life. Except if we are saying that Covid-19 is not a pandemic as declared by WHO, or we are saying that isolation and social distancing are not what is required to contain Covid-19, the debate about legality of the current lockdown is just a distraction.”
Lukman believe that all the debate about whether the President should seek the approval of the National Assembly before declaring the lockdown were “simply unrealistic in the circumstance.
“Without necessarily arguing that those canvassing for the declaration of state of state of emergency through the approval of the National Assembly are cheaply doing so to attract public attention, one is tempted to ask what will be their response (Messrs. Adegboruwa and Falana) if the President were to request the National Assembly to reconvene for the purpose of considering any proposal for declaration of state of emergency in this era whereby scientifically it is not advisable for any session of the National Assembly to hold? If the operative norm requires isolation and social distancing for the country to be able to contain the spread of Covid-19 virus, anybody, including Messrs. Adegboruwa and Falana, will be dishonest to canvass for any sitting of the National Assembly to enforce the issue of social distancing and isolation to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“Could it be that social distancing and isolation could be achieved without lockdown? From all the arguments, it doesn’t appear this is the point of contention. One readily conclusion therefore is that the argument against the lockdown as declared by the President is on account of the lack of recognition of the emergency timeline which Covid-19 has imposed on the world. Leaders across the world are struggling to respond to this new timeline. Largely because it is a challenge that border on saving human life, citizens are required to work in partnership with governments.
“In our context, working to save Nigerians from the spread of Covid-19 shouldn’t be the responsibility of government alone. It should be the responsibility everyone, especially those of us with some claims to knowledge and pro-people consciousness. If, as late Samora Machel, the first President of Mozambique has argued, ‘science and knowledge should be instrument of progress’, containing the spread of Covid-19 should require innovative application of knowledge and law. This is what the Covid-19 emergency timeline dictates. It is not about rigid applications of knowledge and laws.
“To miss the reality of this, may mean being reckless. It would appear many of us, including very experienced elder statesmen such as our Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, are still operating in the old activist timelines of being in opposition to government. Covid-19 doesn’t allow us the luxury of government vs citizens dichotomy. This is not in any way suggesting that government or the President should exercise absolute powers. To the extent that so far, across the world, as recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO), the three recommended best practices are testing, contact tracing and isolation, our knowledge and our laws should be deployed to compel citizens to observe isolation and social distancing. Under no circumstance should we seek to apply our knowledge and laws in manners that portends potentials to compromise the lives of citizens.”