THE National Association of Nigerian Students has called on the Federal Government to include students in the national response to the coronavirus pandemic to enable them gain experience now and for the future.
NANS president, Comrade Danielson Akpan, who spoke with Tribune Education in Abuja emphasised the need to ensure participation and mainstreaming of young Nigerians on issues that affect their lives as an inalienable right.
He said it was also wrong that the government failed to include members of NANS and other youth organisations in the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“We demand for immediate inclusion of NANS and youth organisations in the presidential task force and equally demand for mobilisation of health-related students to serve as ad hoc staff or supportive staff to enable them to gain experience now and for the future,” he said.
While commending the efforts and achievement of all stakeholders working towards ensuring a COVID-19-free Nigeria, Akpan particularly lauded President Muhammadu Buhari on the decisive action to release palliative funds and materials in the face of the pandemic.
He reaffirmed support of the students for President Buhari and his administration, but expressed concern over what he described as “lack of transparency and accountability” in the disbursement of the palliative funds and materials to cushion the effect of the lockdown.
He said: “We condemn in totality the pattern of disbursement so far as claimed by the PTF and other government officials. The process is not transparent and does not get to the vulnerable people as claimed, while no one knows where those mentioned billions have been spent since the palliative measures began.
“Should we continue like this, people will die in hunger and we don’t want to have a situation where we will begin to have kwashiorkor in the country or young people taking to crimes and breaking laws all in a bid to survive.
“As integral part of the society, we cannot proudly claim to have seen or had access to data of those that have collected from the COVID-19 palliative measures.
“Information at our disposal revealed that while government earmarked N20,000 for the vulnerable Nigerians, a paltry N10,000 was disbursed in carefully selected remote rural areas.
“Information reaching us further revealed that they are trying to conjure fake data to cover up to show that they have given to large numbers of people. All concerned must be ready to render account of their stewardship in this trying moment of our national life.
“The present health sector of the country is another great area of concern to us. We condemn the discrepit state of the health sector in the country as this has again exposed our country as a nation still experimenting with quality healthcare facilities for overall citizens’ benefit.
“We reiterate our call for deliberate overall development of the health sector in Nigeria and call for the establishment of at least one model health care centre in each of the 774 local governments in Nigeria with modern equipment.”
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