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Coronavirus: Nigerian President Buhari Meets VP, Task Force; Speaker Warns Chinese Envoy

Coronavirus: Nigerian President Buhari Meets VP, Task Force; Speaker Warns Chinese Envoy 

-Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

Chinese envoy under fire, Buhari concerned over lockdown issues.

After a meeting with Buhari on Friday, VP Yemi Osinbajo spoke to the media disclosing some of the issues that were discussed. Osinbajo said the meeting was to update Buhari on the progress of the Economic Sustainability Committee which he chairs.

“We have held a number of meetings and are receiving sectoral suggestions on how to position the Nigerian economy post COVID-19,” he posted on Twitter.

But speaking to the press after the meeting he said Buhari was concerned about issues relating to a lockdown in place. “What we are concerned about is how to ensure that the economy remains stable, that jobs are protected and if possible, more jobs are created,” he said.

“We are very concerned about that and the President has expressed very serious concerns about the problems that may be associated with the lockdown.

“Many of our people work for a daily wage, they have to go out to work, so we have to think in terms of how to ensure that we are able to give them some succour during the period when they are not able to work.

“Some of those issues are the issues Mr President wanted me to discuss fully with him. Of course, we have the Economic Sustainability Committee and shortly we are going to submit a full report to Mr President on our thoughts and ideas.

“Mr President asked me to meet with him in particular to resolve some of the pressing issues around COVID-19 and also around the economic problems that we are seeing already.”

The Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 briefed me today. I remain very grateful for the hard work that they are putting into this national assignment. I have no doubt that with all these efforts, Nigeria will triumph over this pandemic.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) April 10, 2020

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila censures Chinese envoy.

Speaker of Nigeria’s lower house of parliament has chided the Chinese envoy to the country at a meeting to protest mistreatment of Nigerians. Femi Gbajabiamila told the envoy Zhou Pingjian that he was upset at the reports including videos making the rounds on social media.

“As a government, we will not allow Chinese or other nationals to be maltreated just as we will not allow Nigerians to be maltreated in other countries,” Gbajabiamila had said.

“The way you treat your citizens, we expect that’s how you’ll treat others. We will not tolerate our citizens breaking your laws, but the crime of one citizen cannot be used to stigmatize the whole country.

“It appears that’s what happened in this case. You can’t use one brush to smear the whole wall. Whatever the reason, it cannot be used and taken out on the entire community in China.” The meeting with Pingjian came after a similar one with Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama.

Responding to the speaker’s concerns, Pingjian said the Chinese authorities take the relationship with Nigeria seriously. “Until we receive a full report from back home, I cannot act, but I can assure you it is not a policy issue,” the ambassador said.

In a later tweet, the Chinese embassy quoted Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, as saying that China and African countries are united “more than ever.”

“FM Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: ‘China and African countries are united more than ever, demonstrating brotherhood in times of adversity. We treat all foreign nationals equally in China. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination’,” the embassy tweeted.

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