A yet-to-be officially named son of former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has tested positive for coronavirus.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that the infected son‘s name is Mohammed, who was said have returned recently from Switzerland with his family.
Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election, yesterday, confirmed that his son had tested positive to the coronavirus, which is currently ravaging the world.
In his verified twitter handle yesterday, Atiku appealed to Nigerians to pray for his son who has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital, Abuja.
He said: “My son has tested positive for coronavirus.
“The @NCDCGov (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) has been duly informed, and he has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management. I will appreciate it if you have him in your prayers. Stay safe, coronavirus is real,” he added.
The former vice president did not give the identity of the affected son and whether the infection occurred in Nigeria or overseas.
Also, Atiku’s media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, confirmed the incident. He, however, said that he did not know the name of his principal’s son, who is infected by the virus.
Virus Threatens Tax Revenue As Cases Rise To 31
The outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic is posing a major threat to the realisation of revenue targets by both public and private sectors in the country.
At the federal level, the N8.5 trillion tax revenue target given to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) seems to be a wild goose chase owing to the impact of the deadly disease on crude oil prices and other business operations across sectors of the economy.
This is even as Nigeria has confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 30.
Of the eight new cases, six were reported in Lagos, one in Oyo State and one in the federal capital territory (FCT).
„As of 22nd March, there are 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in Nigeria. Of the 30 confirmed cases, two have been discharged, with no death. The breakdown of cases by states currently; Lagos- 22 FCT- 4 Ogun- 2, Ekiti- 1 and Oyo- 1. We are working closely with the States Ministry of Health to identify and follow up with contacts“, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said yesterday.
Accordingly, the centre urged those who returned from any country in the last 14 days to stay in self-isolation.
Already, businesses are shutting down, just as manufacturing production lines have been weakened because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For instance, Union Bank Plc on Saturday announced that „Starting from Monday, March 23rd, Union Bank is activating remote work for all its employees except critical functions in our operations and service teams over the health and safety of its employees.“
The global pandemic which started late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, is having a bite in revenues accruing to the federal government coffers, as available data showed that FIRS in January 2020 collected tax revenue of N338.1 billion against a tax target of N620.2 billion.
The Muhammad Nami-led tax agency performance record for the period was abysmal, considering the variance of N282.1 in budgeted and actual collection figures for the month.
Based on the data obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Cross River States with a total target of N2,175,116,159.19 for January also had a low actual collection of N2,010,374,940.81 in the same month, representing 92.43 per cent.
Lagos Mainland East had January target of N50,272,057,644.57, but its actual collection of N39,177,218,569.19 amounted to 77.93 per cent.
Adamawa, Gombe and Taraba had January target of N1,496,937,795.22 but collected N2,237,217,349.37, representing 149.45 per cent collection.
Jigawa, Kano and Katsina had a collection target of N5,203,823,553.44 but their actual collection was N3,606,224,711.59, representing 77.93 perc ent.
Ogun, Osun and Oyo had a target of N6,268,435,732.91, while their actual collection during the period stood at N4,167,880,594.20, indicating 66.49 per cent collection.
In the same vein, Benue, Kaduna and Niger had tax collection target of N3,848,560,125.77 but made actual collection of N2,003,203,450.93, indicating 52.05 per cent, while Delta, Edo and Rivers collectively had January target of N17,790,368,169.50 but recorded actual collection of N9,251,413, 039.13 indicating 52 percent.
Lagos State usually records the highest volume of tax collection among the states of the federation, but based on available record from the state‘s internal revenue generation, Lagos Mainland West was given a January target of N4,988,901,182.24 but collected N3,033,847,030.11 representing 60.81per cent.
Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu had a target of N2,503,697,840.31 but they were able to collect N1,356,428,894.51 representing 54.18 per cent.
Lagos Island was given a target of N459,548,646,637.50 in January, but it collected the sum of N238,708,658,042.72, translating to 51.94 per cent.
Bauchi, Plateau, Borno and Yobe had a collection target of N2,793,435,123,22, but their actual collection was N1,446,670,932.56, indicating 51.79 per cent.
The FCT, Nasarawa and Kogi had a target sum of N61,680,175,079.81, but collected a total of N30,248,678,333.46, representing 49.04 per cent, while Ekiti, Kwara and Ondo had tax collection target of N1,726,864,502.79, but ended up with actual collection of N757,471,765.95, representing 43.86 per cent.
Whereas Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara have a budgeted N1,457,022,041.29 tax figure for January, their actual collection was N532,837,594.78, indicating 36.57 percent, while Anambra and Imo had target sum of N1,457,022,041.29, but had actual collection sum of N384, 986,673.78, reflecting 26.42 per cent.
The monthly Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting for March was not held last week, and one of the reasons attributed for the indefinite adjournment of the meeting was lack of enough revenue to share among the federal, states and local government areas of the federation, a situation that has put the payment of salaries of public workers on hold.
The federal government has also announced the shutting down of all international airports and economic activities in their operations.
There are fears that if the coronovirus pandemic continues unabated, it would have more negative impact on the nation‘s economy.
IGP Directs Enforcement Of Restriction Order
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 global health threat and the subsequent social restriction orders imposed by governments at all levels, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has directed all zonal assistant inspectors-general of Police and commissioners of Police nationwide to ensure that all legitimate orders given in pursuant to the containment efforts are strictly enforced within their areas of jurisdiction.
Force PRO, Frank Mba, said the IGP, while urging officers to observe personal safety measures, further directed the zonal AIGs and Command CPs to ensure that cases of unnecessary arrests and detention of suspects are not condoned.
The IGP reiterated that the detention of suspects must be reduced to the barest minimum and that only very serious cases such as terrorism, armed robbery, homicide and other non-bailable offences should warrant detention.
“The IGP further directs that adequate measures be emplaced to screen persons to be committed into police custody. The IGP enjoins citizens to avoid social visits to police stations and other police offices and minimize official visits, except where absolutely necessary”, Mba stated.
Meanwhile, the IGP has ordered Command CPs to immediately publicize phone numbers of their Command Control Rooms, area commanders and divisional police officers (DPOs) and other tactical commanders using the conventional and non- conventional media in order to facilitate alternative interacting and reporting options between the public and the police.
Also, in compliance with federal government’s directive that all tertiary institutions be shut, the IGP has ordered the immediate closure of the Nigeria Police Academy as well as all police primary and secondary schools nationwide.
Meanwhile, the Force Medical Services has been empowered and directed to step up sensitization programmes across commands, formations and barracks in the country.
Lagos Govt Asks Workers To Work From Home
Also, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday ordered civil servants from grade level one to twelve to work from home for fourteen days in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state.
The governor, who expressed worry over increasing rate of confirmed cases in the state at a press conference in Lagos House Marina, urged the private sector to bench their non –essential services staff to effectively tackle the pandemic disease.
He said it became necessary for him to address the residents again because of the confirmation of additional six cases within 72 hours he had briefed on the disease, bringing the total cases in Lagos State to 19 confirmed cases.
“First let me say that these confirmations are evidence the system is working, that we are actively and met tracking and testing suspected cases. Let me also reiterate that all confirmed cases have been isolated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba”, he stated.
Sanwo-Olu added that the state government had been working closely with the federal government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector to halt the spread of this disease.
The governor, who hailed Lagosians for obeying his directive that they should stay away from large congregation of people above 50, warned that the state government will arrest anyone or group found to be frustrating government’s efforts.
Sanwo-Olu pointed out that the directive was not meant to deprive anybody of his or her freedom, “saying, many mosques were closed on Friday and many churches shut down today”.
He continued: “In addition to all the previous directives issued so far. I am now hereby directing all public officers in the entire unified public service from Grade Levels 1 to 12 which constitutes 70 percent of the entire public service workforce to stay at home from Monday 23 of March 2020 for 14 days in the first instance.
“We will review this as time goes on. Members of the public are advised to refrain from visiting public offices and to transact as much business as possible through the telephone and online channels.
“This stay at-home order does not affect medical personnel. Fire Service, LASEMA, LAWMA, and other first respondents and essential services. We are working to ramp up our capacity to take on new cases as they‘re confirmed; other Health facilities will. In due time be deployed to support the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital”.
The governor added that the state government would set up more facilities in Yaba to contain a likely upsurge in coronavirus cases, adding that more health workers were being trained and retired health personnel were also being put on notice that they may be recalled to serve in these trying times.
CUPP Demands Mandatory Test For All Nigerians
Also, following the growing spread of the coronavirus infection with a total of 30 identified cases, opposition political parties in the country have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an executive order backed by parliament within the next 48 hours for free and mandatory coronavirus testing for all citizens, especially those who recently got into the country.
According to a statement by spokesman of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, this is to help ensure early detection and identification of infected people who have not shown any symptoms of the virus.
He further explained that this will also make it a lot easier to track all possible contacts of carriers.
He said, “Let all hospitals be mandated to run free test and let all citizens be encouraged to go for test. An emergency law should be made by parliament backing free testing/funding like most nations have done and also a law making it an offence for citizens who refuse to run test.
“Part of the one trillion naira released by CBN should be used to fund this process. Remember the primary responsibility of government under Section 14 is protection of lives and properties.
“Get your loyalist in the parliament who passed your borrowing plan for $22.7b Foreign loan without debate or seeing the details to pass anti coronavirus virus legislation including free and mandatory testing immediately”.
Kogi Govt Approves Proactive Measures
Following the increasing spread of the coronavirus pandemic in some parts of the country, Kogi State government has implemented sensitisation plans to prevent its spread in the state.
A state by commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon Kingsley Fanwo, noted that the state government has already taken proactive steps to ensure the state is safe from the deadly virus.
He said schools have been shut down and gathering of people in their numbers has been banned, including market places, adding that the state government has also set up a Containment Centre to control the spread of the virus in the State.
The statement noted: „We recognize the fact that we live in a world that is highly integrated today. The news of a case in Ekiti State, our next door neighbor has no doubt heightened our action to ensure we have no case in Kogi State.
“The Ministry of Information and Communication has yielded its information platforms to the sensitization program as we are also meeting with people to let them know what they need to do to support government’s efforts at curbing the dangerous disease.
“We urged religious leaders in the country to pray against the disease, as the pandemic is more dangerous than earlier thought.
„Kogi State government will not hesitate to take more stringent steps to keep the people safe from the disease; as anyone who disobeys the social distancing and gathering order will face the full wrath of the law as they will be treated as enemies of the people of Kogi State and those who want to sabotage our efforts at containing the deadly disease.
„It is important to stay a metre away from people with the following symptoms: sneezing, cough and other respiratory disorders. It is advised that we cover our faces with disposable tissue paper while coughing or sneezing and where such is not available, please ensure you pose no danger to the public by sneezing or coughing into flexed elbow. Call the dedicated phone numbers from NCDC or KgSMOH.
“The global reaction to COVID-19 is novel. From China to the United States, Italy and Nigeria; the world has shown a strong drive to stamp the disease out.
We urge our people to avoid staying in a crowd and to also wash their hands with soap. Hand sanitizers should also be used to boost our resistance to the survival of the virus. Our children should stay at home now that they are not in school as Government would frown at any attempt at congregating pupils and students under any academic guise. We also urge our people to shun fake news and any form of panic as government will constantly brief the people of development on COVID-19 in our commitment to ensure the safety of all Kogites.“
Union Bank Shuts Down, Asks Workers To Operate From Home
Amid the scare of Coronavirus, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc has shut down its daily operations and directed its staff to work from home.
In a statement issued yesterday, the bank directed its workers to comply with the directive starting from today, Monday 23rd March, 2020.
The bank also gave safety procedures which its staff members should abide by while they are working at home.
The statement reads: “Starting from Monday, March 23rd, Union Bank is activating remote work for all its employees except critical functions in our operations and service teams. Stay safe during this period”.
Emirates Airlines Suspends Passengers’ Flights
Emirates Airlines, one of the world’s largest aviation businesses, yesterday announced the suspension of all passenger flights from Wednesday, March 25.
The airline said its cargo operations would continue to provide critical logistics as the world battles to stymie the fury of COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by coronavirus.
Emirates CEO, Ahmed Al Maktoum, said in the statement: “As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries reopen their borders, and travel confidence returns.
“By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations”.
The airline said it would “continue to watch the situation closely” and be ready to resume operations once the situation returns to normal across the world. The long-haul carrier, which operates more than 1,800 flights out of its main hub in Dubai every week, flies to more than 140 destinations in over 80 countries.
The announcement appeared to be the biggest blow to air travel since coronavirus forced dozens of countries to shut borders or impose far-reaching travel restrictions in a race to slow down the spread.
Merkel In Self-isolation, US Senator Tests Positive, Singapore Closes Borders
Meanwhile, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will quarantine herself at home after being treated by a doctor who has since tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a government spokesman hinted yesterday.
“The Chancellor has decided to quarantine herself at home. She will be tested regularly in the coming days (and) fulfil her official business from home,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement. Also, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is the first US senator to test positive for coronavirus, according to a statement on Twitter.
„He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person,“ the post said.
Sergio Gor, Paul‘s deputy chief of staff, expanded on the tweet saying in a statement that „he (Paul) expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time.
“Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul“, he added.
Paul is the third member of Congress to be diagnosed with Covid-19 as cases spread across the country.
Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, was the first member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus on March 18, while Democratic Rep, Ben McAdams of Utah also announced he tested positive for the virus.
Several lawmakers have self-quarantined after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive with coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference, including President Donald Trump‘s incoming chief of staff, Rep Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
Paul‘s announcement comes as Congress is in the midst of working to reach a negotiation on a coronavirus economic stimulus bill.
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with the top four Congressional leaders about the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there is no deal yet and that the House will introduce its own bill — something that could significantly draw out the process to finalize legislation.
Meanwhile, a day after Singapore confirmed its first two coronavirus-related deaths the country said it would close its borders to short-term visitors and some foreign labourers from 11:59pm (15:59 GMT) on Monday to help limit the spread of the disease.
The new rules mean short-term visitors will no longer be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, while semi-skilled workers on „work passes“ will not be allowed to return to the island unless their job is in sectors that provide essential services such as healthcare and transport, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.
National Development minister, Lawrence Wong, said at a briefing yesterday that the measures to „significantly tighten“ Singapore‘s borders had been prompted by the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.
„In Singapore, almost 80 percent of our new COVID-19 cases over the past three days were imported, most of them Singapore residents and Long Term Pass holders returning home from abroad. These imported cases had travel histories to 22 different countries“, the MOH statement said. Widely praised for its aggressive efforts to contain the virus without resorting to a total lockdown of the city, Singapore reported the country‘s first deaths from the disease on Saturday.
Changi Airport is a major hub and Singapore Airlines is one of the world‘s leading carriers.
The first was a 75-year-old Singaporean woman with a history of chronic heart disease and hypertension who had been in intensive care for 26 days since being admitted with pneumonia.
The other was a 64-year-old Indonesian man who was admitted to ICU on March 13, the day he arrived in Singapore from Indonesia and was confirmed to have COVID-19.
Before he arrived in Singapore, he had been hospitalised in Indonesia for pneumonia and had a history of heart disease.
„I know Singaporeans will be worried and anxious. We must take courage and not give in to our fears“, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told reporters on Saturday.