COVID-19: Senate President Lawan Charges FG On Relief For Nigeria’s Poor

  • To ensure NCDC applies N6.5bn judiciously
  • Cautions on looming health crisis

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, says the Federal Government must urgently provide relief for poor Nigerians hugely affected by current restriction on movement over the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak to avoid looming human crisis in the country.

He said aside contemplating a total lockdown of business activities nationwide, the government must take concrete and appropriate steps towards releasing funds to ordinary Nigerians, specifically for the purchase of food and pharmaceutical supplies.

According to him, not acting promptly with adequate provisions to address basic needs of poor Nigerians could result in further problems for government, including stalling efforts at controlling the coronavirus spread nationwide.

The Senate President made the plea while hosting a meeting of the National Assembly leadership with some Ministers and Heads of government agencies in Abuja.

Senator Lawan said; “Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time, because it is really taking a toll on our lives.

“If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people.

“As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people, because the United States of America that is talked about or the British Parliament is because this involves public funds.”

Lamenting that he has not seen anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief for the poor, the Senate President said;.”If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake-up trouble, because majority of our citizens go to market everyday before they can get something to eat.

“So, you lock them up in their houses with a threat of disease and without food. We need to have something, a plan of some sorts, in addition to making sure we don’t lock up the farmers market for example, where people can easily go and buy something, and of course pharmacies.

“We need to have some kind of supplies to people, I don’t know how we can achieve this, but we have to be ingenious.”

Senator Lawan insisted that; “This is a time to think deep and wide, to provide for our people, in order for us at least to deal with this challenge at the moment.”

Furthermore, the Senate President urged the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as Federal Government releases more funds for its operations.

He also assured that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning will oversight and closely monitor NCDC’s activities to ensure strict application of the N6.5 billion earmarked for fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe that our Committees on Health, in the Senate and in the House, must be alert to this, when funds are released, so that they (NCDC) don’t just go on jamboree spending the money elsewhere, where we may not achieve this kind of spread that is extremely necessary,” he said.

Expressing National Assembly’s readiness to maintain robust collaboration with the executive arm, Senator Lawan said both chambers are set for the planned review of year 2020 budget before the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 following its two weeks forced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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