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Nigeria’s government must be proactive and not resort to blame games if it is to contain the coronavirus, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said.

Mr Abubakar assured Nigerians that the coronavirus disease would be defeated, just as the country defeated Ebola, in 2014.

Nigerians woke up to the news of the first recorded coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) case early on Friday, following confirmation from the Lagos State Government.

The disease has killed thousands of people globally, a majority in China where the disease originated from.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that an Italian national, who came into the country on Tuesday on a business trip, had tested positive at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, and taken to the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba.

Following the confirmed case, the Lagos State Ministry of Health said it has begun to identify all the contacts of the infected Italian national in order to isolate them and hedge the spread of the virus.

Mr Abubakar, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, called on the federal government to be proactive in its approach.

“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 General Muhammadu Buhari, on how best to tackle this issue.

“We must call upon our experience with the Wild Ebola Virus, of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat that scourge in 2014. How did Nigeria do it? We achieved it by showing unprecedented unity. The federal government of the day worked closely with the Lagos and Rivers state governments. There was complete unity, solidarity and oneness of purpose, which created the atmosphere that defeated that deadly infestation.

“I strongly counsel that any tendency to blame and point fighters must be temporarily, if not permanently, suspended. If fingers must be pointed, it must be to solutions.”

Mr Abubakar, in the statement, which was also posted on his social media pages on Friday, emphasised that Nigeria needs firm and decisive actions to prevent an escalation of the scourge.

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“Recently, we closed our borders as an act against economic sabotage. Perhaps now is the time to temporarily halt flights to and from any nation with a prevalence of this scourge. It is more important to secure human lives than to secure an economy. We also need to invest in early detection facilities at our airports.”

He, however, advised that Nigerians, whether at government or individual levels, should not panic.

“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 dear fatherland, which we must work together to keep healthy and secure,” he said.

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