Tough times produce heroic leaders whose words and deeds rouse a nation to victory. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, AUN Founder and Nigeria’s former Vice President, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar has been leading the battle from the forefront, mobilizing and sensitizing the nation on measures to stay safe and defeat the coronavirus.
Through his social media handles and Press Offices, the Founder dominated public discourse with useful information on how Nigerians can protect themselves. He is consistently setting the agenda on economic stabilization and stimuli which the government can introduce to help ordinary Nigerians mitigate the accompanying harsh economic conditions in the wake of COVID-19.
A man of action who is not given to idle talk, the Founder doled out a personal donation of N50million to the Federal Government to help Nigerians cushion the adverse effects of the lockdown, a highly commendable and patriotic initiative which opened the floodgates for more donations by industrialists, corporate organizations and philanthropic Nigerians.
"Now that Nigeria has had her first confirmed case of the Corona Virus infestation, via a citizen of Italy, who visited Lagos and Ogun states, I would want to offer my patriotic counsel to the government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari, on how best to tackle this issue", began the Founder, in his maiden communication on February 28 to a nation gripped by fear of the unknown.
Referencing Nigeria's globally-acclaimed successful containment of the Ebola virus in 2014, the Founder counseled the Nigerian Government to prioritize human security while urging a ban flights into Nigeria from adversely affected countries and to shut the borders.
"Nigeria must not panic. Whether at government or individual levels. We have defeated Ebola before and we can defeat this present predicament. This crisis is an opportunity to show that we are first and foremost Nigerians and that we have no other country but our own dear fatherland, which we must work together to keep healthy and secure", the Founder wrote, in words that filled citizens with hope, in his first statement titled, "Corona Virus: What We Need is Unity and National Resolve".
In a follow-up statement titled: "Corona Virus: The Time for Prompt and Patriotic Action to Protect the Nigerian People is Now", which was released on March 12, HE Atiku Abubakar called on the Federal Government to suspend flights from countries with high COVID-19 incidence and to trace passengers who had contacts with infected returnees
"We must act now. We must put Nigeria and her citizens first. We must ensure that our national policy is deliberately tailored to protect our most excellent national resource, the great Nigerian people".
"Nigeria Must Take Decisive Economic Action to Protect Our People from the Ravages of the Corona Virus", was the subsequent message to the nation on March 17, where he laid down series of pro-people measures which the Federal Government can take to ease the cost of doing business and living in Nigeria while promoting consumer confidence.
He recommended a temporary suspension on the collection of Stamp Duties on all types of accounts and a drastic downward review in the price of petrol to reflect the prevailing market costs.
"In addition to these measures, the government is urged to request large scale industrialists and employers of labor not to disengage workers. Definitely, this scourge will affect their production and profitability. However, if they know that the government is behind them and will do all to support them, they are less likely to disengage workers".
In yet another rousing message to Nigerians on March 25 titled: "Corona Virus: Nigerians Deserve Palliative Measures", the Founder drawing from his vast experience in resource management in the public and private sectors, as well as his legendary compassion for vulnerable groups, drew the Federal Government's attention to the fact that much of the Nigerian public have a subsistence existence.
"A large percentage of our people do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation and even lockdown. It is, therefore, incumbent on the Federal and State governments to provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them to survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their own safety.
"At approximately 30 million households or thereabouts, the government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind.
"It is thus time for the National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that will cater to all Nigerian citizens.
"I also call on all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that the government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance. I also urge these telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ₦1500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service, as the case may be".
The Founder sent many more patriotic messages, commending relevant stakeholders in the nation's healthcare system for a job well done, in a March 27 statement titled: "With the Nigerian spirit, we can overcome any challenge".