Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
There are concerns in Lagos on Wednesday over the health status of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who was seen in public gathering on Tuesday.
Many had criticised the former Lagos State governor for failing to self-isolate after returning from a trip to the United Kingdom (UK).
Tinubu, who returned to the country last weekend, attended a closed door meeting with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, party leaders and state Assembly lawmakers at the State House, Marina, on Tuesday where he drummed support for the call for the lockdown of Lagos and the country at large over the pandemic.
Aside taking pictures with party leaders present, Tinubu’s picture greeting Governor Sanwo-Olu with elbow bump also went viral.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, Tinubu poured encomiums on Sanwo-Olu on the measures rolled out to curtail the spread of the disease, noting that he had shown leadership in the implementation of the response strategy to manage the confirmed cases and tracing of suspected cases.
He said, “I congratulate the governor for the fact that he asked the workers to stay at home to discontinue the chain of transmission. We must respect this order and obey the government. We endorse the position of the governor. Let people stay at home in this period and pray in their houses.
“We need to observe social distancing. It is a new culture that we have to abide with. I will support total lockdown if the government decides to do that. I am in support of it. There should be a total lockdown if the government observes that we are not complying.
“I could listen attentively to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, yesterday (Tuesday); and Great Britain is under lockdown now. If we have to do it, the government will do it.
“I can’t pre-empt what the governor would be doing next but whatever decision he takes, he has our support. We have reviewed the previous measures with him and he has also reviewed with his team. We have confidence in the team; whatever they say, we will comply.”
Those who spoke on the issue said Tinubu should have taken a cue from Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the President, who failed to self-isolate after a trip to Germany and has now tested positive to the virus.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Wednesday, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, said Tinubu’s action reeks of impunity as it may endanger the lives of others amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is impunity that runs our country. It is impunity that will make someone (Tinubu) to come back from London and burst into town and begin to gallivant all over the place, giving everybody handshakes.
It is the kind of impunity that will make Abba Kyari to go to Germany, come back to Nigeria and began to mingle with everybody, going to weddings, attending meetings and so on. So, it is above the norms that we have seen in our leadership all the time, that the laws are meant for others, but not meant for us.
“It is the same impunity that will make some church leaders, even prominent ones among us to go and do church service when the government said not more than 50 people should gather. It is unfortunate”, he said.
In its response, the Lagos State chapter of APC accused Afenifere of playing politics with the issue rather than joining hands with other well-meaning Nigerians on how to combat the pandemic.
Spokesman of the party, Seye Oladejo, said Tinubu as a responsible statesman will never breach any guidelines especially as regards public safety.
“It is better to get the facts on issues rather than jump into unnecessary conclusions and playing politics. It is highly unfortunate on the part of anyone to want to play politics over the issue of COVID-19. It is always better to get the truth of any situation before jumping into conclusion.
“For a very long time after Asiwaju Tinubu came back, a good number of people didn’t even know he was back. What transpired between that time that he returned to the country which people did not know about it and the time he was seen in public?
“Asiwaju is the national leader of APC and definitely, he will always observe all protocols to the best of my knowledge. He even went further to show concern for the general public health on the issue and he has aligned himself with the decisions taken so far by the Lagos State government on the issue.
“So, I don’t think this is the time for politics like Afenifere is doing. The major thing now is for all of us to overcome the COVID-19 scourge and relegate politics to the background”, he said.
Efforts made to reach Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s media aide, proved abortive as calls to his mobile phones were not answered as at the time of going to press.