Coronavirus: We must provide relief before lockdown, Lawan urges FG

• Insists on NASS committees' monitoring of N6.5 billion for NCDC

As the Federal Government considered total lockdown to combat the spread of the pandemic, coronavirus, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has called on the Federal Government to immediately put in place measures to guarantee relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood would be affected as a result of the restriction on movement.

Lawan made the appeal at the end of a meeting between the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly and some Ministers and Heads of Government Agencies on Wednesday in Abuja.

Nigerian Tribune reports that the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed on Thursday at a media briefing said the Federal Government would soon announce restriction of interstate movement of vehicles except those on essential services.

The President of the Senate suggested that the restriction of movement would be counterproductive unless the government has a dedicated fund for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies to mitigate the challenge of the dearth of access to money for the ordinary Nigerians.

”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.

“I’m not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake-up trouble, because the majority of our citizens go to markets every day 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.

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“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.

“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.”

The President of the Senate pleaded with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds were released to it by the Federal Government.”

He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning would oversight the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control on the strict application of the N6.5 billion to be released for the fight against 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.”

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