AQABA Meeting: Buhari highlights nexus between COVID-19, security

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By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Sept. 2, 2020 President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government will sustain efforts to make adjustments to new lifestyles and be sensitive to the security underpinnings, as experts try to find vaccines for COVID-19, and a possible acceptable cure.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said Buhari stated this during the AQABA Process virtual meeting in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Wednesday.

President Buhari said Nigeria developed a robust framework led by Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to coordinate and oversee the country’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts at containing the spread and mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “This was done while currently monitoring effects of the measures and taking steps to mitigate these effects as quick as possible. This was in a bid to ensure sustained human security across the population.

“Earlier, we had established the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee with the responsibility of providing among others a national vision for humanitarian actors and settling disputes that may arise from interactions between security services and the humanitarian community.

“This committee was timely as a stop gap measure in coping with the effects of COVID-19.’’

He said the government had also taken measures to tackle the devastation of social and economic dimensions of the pandemic with a focus on the most vulnerable citizens in the society through provision of palliatives as well as other economic stimulus packages.

The president said the measures came at a cost, but would be sustained, while citing Mali as an example where social and economic challenges took a toll on government and pushed democracy to a “breaking point.”

“Such situation could create a vacuum that can be exploited by terrorists and violent extremists.’’

The president told the gathering of Heads of Governments that the security landscape in Nigeria and across West Africa continued to evolve with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that various systems in society came grinding to a halt as a result of the urgent measures taken to slow down the spread of the disease.

“These measures were taken while being mindful of the toll that the virus has had in the various epicentres across the world where medical structures were strained up to breaking point while dealing with mass casualties as a result of infections from the disease.

“These measures are not without their challenges as livelihood were drastically affected and civic lifestyle is being tested to its limits. The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to confront what has now turned both a health emergency and an economic crisis,’’ he said.

The president noted that the government would continue to monitor activities of terrorists online to control radicalization of citizens by terrorist groups, and other violent cells, following huge traffic online due to COVID-19.

President Buhari said the migration to cyber space posed greater risk for radicalization, especially with the growing constraints on physical contacts and movements.

“It is important to state that the spread of COVID-19 has led to the movement of activities to cyber space.

“Furthermore, lock-down policies and restrictions of movement in affected areas means that people would move their day to day social and business activities to cyber space. This, however, comes with an increase in the risk of individuals being radicalized online.’’

He appreciated King Abdullah II for the invitation to the meeting, also thanked Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for hosting the meeting under the AQABA Process.

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