• Would you say you are satisfied with the measures put in place by the Federal Government in handling the spread of Covid-19 in the FCT?
RAMAT ABISOLA

Let me start by reiterating that no country was prepared enough for the coronavirus pandemic or has a magic to contain it. On Nigeria’s preparation, you’ll recall that global health professionals and the media expressed confidence in Nigeria’s ability to confront the pandemic. That tells you the quality of preparative substance. However, stemming the spread of the virus has been challenging even if the measures are not different from what other countries are doing. Let us hope that the many people they are still trying to trace had the good sense to observe the directives.

  • With the growing number of cases every day, how best do you think the Federal Government can check the pandemic spread?

While contact tracing must continue in an increased rate, Nigeria will do better by enforcing a nationwide lockdown, going beyond Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states. It has been reported that people are still moving from one state to the other. This must be stopped absolutely without any regard for social status or power of the travelers. In addition, the Federal government needs to increase testing rates by increasing its own capacity as well as collaborating with state governments (e.g. Oyo and Kano states) who are ready to test more people.

  • As a gender advocate, woman in leadership, and a politician, how have you been able to mobilise resources in combating COVID-19?

With its devastating economic implications, the coronavirus pandemic affects women more than any other marginalised group in the society, from food shortage to gender-based violence during lockdown. In my capacity as the Secretary of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and as the chairperson of the Council’s Coronavirus Precautionary, Responsive and Palliative Committee, I have been able to actualize several multidimensional interventions by the Council. First, I head the Council’s working committee with the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory to distribute palliative materials for one hundred thousand households across rural communities within AMAC, spearheading the collation of bonafide beneficiaries and distribution monitoring. Resources were also mobilized from the Council to disinfect AMAC markets in Abuja while materials like hand sanitizers and face mask were given to everyday Nigerians in markets, car parks and workplaces within the Council’s jurisdiction. Also, I have personally mobilized resources using my organisation, Safe Circle Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, to share palliative and hygiene materials to thousands of vulnerable individuals in the FCT.

  • What proactive measures is your office putting in place to fight the spread of Covid-19 in AMAC?

Being the most crucial step, we were the first Area Council to shut down markets within our domain after we had embarked on daily assessment and reinvigoration of primary health facilities, public outreach and sensitization for two weeks. The health department of the Council is working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to

expand testing reach as we continue working with the FCT Ministry on palliative distribution.

  • While the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 on all citizens are severe, they are more so for women. Women also constitute a large percentage of the informal economy in Nigeria. How are you using your position to ensure that post COVID-19, the adverse effect on women are cushioned?

What I have done so far is investing all my energy, for now, in the advocacy for gender inclusiveness of all government efforts to address the economic impacts of the pandemic. Starting from what I have been able to do, leading AMAC’s action committee, in ensuring that women are not exempted from government’s palliative interventions, I am advocating for equal distribution of economic opportunities post-COVID19.

  • In your opinion, what should more women be doing differently to sit at the top and make decisions to drive change in response to COVID-19?

Women should have a demonstration of empathetic leadership and leading through innovation, such as what Dr Ola Brown (Orekunrin), founder of Flying Drs Investment Group, is doing with the invention of protective glass box to protect health personnel from risk of infection from persons whose samples are being taken, and what Temie Giwa-Tubosun, CEO of Life Bank, is doing by joining forces with the government to launch a mobile testing centre.

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