COVID-19: We can’t afford resources for over 4,000 Nigerians willing to be repatriated ― PTF Chairman

•Says Nigeria has entered the phase of community spread of COVID-19

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha on Thursday said that the present administration cannot afford to provide resources to take care of all the expenses of over 4,000 Nigerian who have expressed interest to return home, considering its merger resources, adding that even the rich countries cannot afford to accommodate the needs of such population.

Mr Mustapha who gave the assurance during an interactive session with the House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19, observed that Federal Government has been able to accommodate all the Nigerians evacuated from various countries of their sojourn during the COVID-19 period.

He, however, stressed that the Task Force resolves towards ensuring transparency in its operations.

The PTF chairman, who observed that Nigeria has entered the phase of community spread of COVID-19, affirmed Nigeria has not reached the peak of confirmed cases as the battle against COVID-19 is a long term one.

According to him: “As at midnight on the same day, Wednesday, 10th June 2020, Nigeria had recorded 13,873 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 4,351 discharges and 382 deaths. Significantly, Nigeria recorded 663 new cases on Tuesday, 9th June 2020 representing the highest single-day numbers, ever.”

He added that the majority of the confirmed cases are in a handful of local governments in the country, while 20 out of the 774 LGAs nationwide account for 60% of the cases.

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As part of the phased reopening of the economy, Mr. Mustapha noted that the PTF is working closely with the Economic Sustainability Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for promoting the development of stimulus packages for different categories of SMEs, farmers, businesses, etc; Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development with the view to enlarge the database of some of the Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) for inclusiveness; Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment charged with the mandate to organize the Special Pubic Works Intervention capable of employing one thousand youths from each of the 774 LGAs in the country; Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development on the mobilization and technical support to farmers for the planting season as well as unrestricted movement of food and other agricultural produce as well as Federal Ministry of Education for the development of guidelines and protocols for safe reopening of our schools.

On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire explained that the public health sector has collapsed hence the appeal to all states to provide hospitals for test cases.

He also stressed the need to provide protective treatment to safeguard other Nigerians, using School dormitories because schools are closed, adding that there is need for discipline during the period of self-isolation.

The Minister observed that the three tiers of government and traditional institutions for public advocacy at the subnational level, alternative treatment for infected persons, just as he underscored the need for access to diagnostic in strengthening response at all levels.

Chairman, House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19, Hon. Haruna Mtshelia explained that the leadership of the national assembly set up the Ad-hoc Committee to oversee the functions of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 with the view to achieving its objectives.

While noting that the Ad-hoc Committee comprises of at least 10 medical doctors and other professionals in the related fields, explained that the Speaker mandated the Ad-hoc Committee to add value to the work of the Presidential Task Force.

He also expressed the House passion towards the improved welfare of the health workers in order to protect them from being infected by COVID-19 and ensure enabling environment of them to perform their functions.

While noting that some of the resources appropriated for the PTF have not to be utilized, the Chairman expressed optimism that the Senate will concur with the provisions in the revised 2020 Appropriation passed on Wednesday.

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