The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a coalition of over 70 labour and civil society organisations (CSOs), has blamed governments at all levels for the spike in coronavirus cases in the country.

So far, Nigeria has recorded a total number of 8,915 COVID-19 cases, and while 2,592 patients have been discharged, 259 have died.

In a statement on Friday, the coalition led by Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, said the disease may affect sustainable development in the country.

It said this week’s press briefing by the presidential task force on COVID-19 suggested that “the battle against COVID-19 was not making the expected speedy progress.”

The coalition listed ignoring early warning signals, lack of proactive national strategic plan, unwillingness to cut waste and lack of inclusion of critical stakeholders in the campaign against the disease, as some of the reasons why the country has recorded almost 9,000 cases.

“Federal and state governments appear to be more interested in the politics of the pandemic than a critical understanding of the pandemic for a holistic solution,” the statement issued Adewale Adeoye, ASCAB spokesman, read.

“As of today the federal and state governments have come up with programmes that exist more on paper than in reality all of which have failed to allay the fears and aspirations of millions of Nigerians.

“We question the capacity of the government to deal decisively with the COVID-19 spread because of so many policy somersaults, an indication of confusion and lack of capacity on the part of the government.

“The rise from less than 100 to four digits gives room for deep concern. It raises fundamental questions about the future of public health and livelihood of Nigerians which on the long run will be grievously affected by COVID-19.”

While citing section 14 (2) (b) of the constitution which provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”, the coalition said many COVID-19 patients who needed emergency care were denied treatment in public hospitals.

It said Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, has breached section 10 (1) and (2) of the National Health Act 2014 which provides that no health care worker should deny a patient who needs emergency care.

The ASCAB added that the constitution anticipated a pandemic like COVID-19 but the failure by the government to prevent the spread of the disease and save Nigerians “remains a brutal violation of the constitution.”

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