By Timothy Choji, Abuja
The Presidency says the weekly cabinet meeting and other crowded engagements of the seat of power have been suspended because of size.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on Wednesday, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the cabinet meeting usually has more than 50 people seated thus, the need to suspend it because of COVID-19.
He said: “You have over 50 people seated in the Council chambers whenever a cabinet meeting holds and that is not advisable at a time like this. But if there would be a very important decision to be taken, you can always summon the relevant people, 3, 4 or 5., hold a small meeting and make a decision.
“It does not mean that one man is going to be taking all the decisions; of course, yes, they are executive decisions but the ones that must pass through consultation and which must have the backing of the Federal Executive Council can always be discussed at smaller meetings.”
Apparently confirming the negativity of President Buhari’s COVID-19 test, Adesina said the result calls for rejoicing.
He asked Journalists, “What did you hear about the result?” and the responded, it was negative.”
Adesina said: “Good. That calls for rejoicing with anybody that does the test and it comes out negative, we rejoice with that person and anybody that tests positive is not a death sentence. We also pray along with him/her, give the person our goodwill and best wishes and they will surely come out of it.
“Even the index case in Nigeria recovered and has been discharged. So, God that has shown us mercy thus far and will continue to show that mercy. Anybody that test positive is not a dead sentence, they will be attended to, they will be tested and they will be fine.”
No need for panic
Asked if there was need for Nigerians to panic at a time like this, the Presidential Spokesman said there was no need for anyone to panic because everything is being done by government to guarantee the safety of citizens.
“Panic will not be the right thing to do because when you panic you are bound to make mistakes. When you panic you get agitated and the situation does not call for that, rather it calls for cooperation with government. When they give instructions lets abide with those instructions. And a number of things have been put in place to ensure that the wellbeing of Nigerians is taken care of,” he said.
On the present situation of things in the Villa, Adesina said: “Well, things are a bit on a low key, it doesn’t mean that the State House is shut down, it’s just that things are on a low key just like the rest of the country. The rest of the country is also on a low key, there is partial lockdown in most parts of the country. So, what is happening at the State House can also be called a partial lockdown but not a complete lockdown.”
On measures adopted by the Presidency to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the seat of power, Adesina said: “Of course you know when you come into the State House you have about three, four, five spots in which your temperature is tested and you have to sanitise your hand. And if you come in and your temperature is way above a certain figure, then you will be advised to go for test and take care of yourself.
“So, I think so far so good. Before you will go into the general area you will meet about three areas of test and before you get into the President’s area you will meet like another two. So, I believe that a lot has been done to ensure that those who operate in the presidency are taken care of.”
On the reported media ban from the State House, the Presidential spokesman debunked that saying:
“Ban is a wrong word. Anybody that uses that word ban is just operating from a mindset and you know that Nigerians love conspiracy theories but this one is no conspiracy at all. There is no ban.
“What happened is that in the press gallery you have about 108 journalists in that single hall and it goes contrary to the spirit of the times. The times dictates that you don’t have too many people congregated in one place.
“Imagine 108 Journalists if one of them happens to contact the virus, he spreads it among all the Journalists. So, we said for now let them stay away, not much is happening for now. But we picked a certain number, representatives of the media, they will come in, if there is anything they will cover and those outside will also not miss because they would be a system in which they can share reports,” he added.