The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria have disagreed with the Nigerian Medical Association over the handover of the battle against COVID-19 to state governments.
The NMA President, Prof Innocent Ujah, in an interview with journalists in Jos on Wednesday, said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), should not hand over the national response to COVID-19 to state governments.
But the NANNM and the PSN, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, expressed support for the takeover of the national COVID-19 response by states.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had on Sunday said one of the recommendations submitted to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was that states should manage the pandemic with coordination by the Federal Government.
But the new President of the NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah, while speaking with journalists in Jos on Wednesday, said allowing states to manage the disease would be counterproductive.
Ujah, at a reception organised for him by members of the NMA in Plateau State, said, “Apart from Lagos and maybe one or two other states, the commitment by states is very disappointing.”
However, the NANNM and the PSN, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, argued that the states needed to take responsibility for the COVID-19 battle.
The NANNM President, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, stated that everything about COVID-19 was a collective responsibility and everybody had to play their role.
Adeniji said, “I know the Federal Government cannot leave everything to the states. All it is saying is that the states should be more committed and take responsibility. From the individuals through communities, local governments, states to the federal level and then the international bodies like the World Health Organisation, we all have to take responsibility.
“The only thing is that the Federal Government must provide leadership, policies and legal framework. I don’t think it is saying anything new, except that each state should be more concerned, responsive and committed. For example, it is not the responsibility of the (federal) government to trace contacts and give education to all of us.
“Likewise, professionals, governments, philanthropists, private establishments should all give enlightenment on COVID-19, but the Federal Government will only take the lead, while the others will make their contributions. The states must also be committed, except when any state is overwhelmed.”
In the same vein, the General Secretary of the PSN, Emeka Duru, stated that some states were more responsible than others.
Duru said, “You can’t, because some states are irresponsible, try to draw those that are serious backwards. When you look at Lagos State, you can see a lot of commitment.
“You can see a lot of foresight. You can see a lot of hard work. Certainly, if I were the governor, I would not allow whatever efforts I am making to mix up with whatever any other governor or state is doing.
“So, I think I agree with the Federal Government and I’m sure it’s a very well-thought-out plan.”
He, however, underscored the importance of the Federal Government ensuring that states did not fall too far behind.
Duru said, “If a state is not doing well and you abandon them on their own, definitely, they would become what we regard as a weak link.
“Through that weak link, those states that are working hard and being responsible, definitely, they cannot escape the consequences of that irresponsibility to the other states that are doing well.
“So, the (Federal) Government can step in and see how it can help the weak links. You are only as strong as your weakest link. So, those that are seen as the weak links, if something is not done about them, will neutralise any other efforts in a very negative way.”