Lawan: Why FG Must Cushion Effects of Lockdown on Vulnerable Nigerians

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As authorities continue to tighthen lockdown across the country in their bid to stop Coronavirus spread, President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, has called on the Federal Government to urgently introduce a plan that will provide relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood have been affected as a result of the restriction.

Lawan made the appeal against the backdrop of a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and some Ministers and Heads of Government Agencies on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the Senate President, while a lockdown of business activities in the country is necessary, there must be a plan a by the government to cushion the effect of the lockdown on citizens.

He warned that not making provisions ahead of time to address the basic needs of poor Nigerians may likely lead to more problems for the government, and less result in controlling the spread of the disease.

He 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.

“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 majority of our citizens go to market everyday before they can get something to eat.

“So, don’t 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.

“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 Senate President in addition urged the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds are released to it by the Federal Government.

He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning will oversight the NCDC on the strict application of the N6.5 billion to be released for the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lawan said: “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.”

Lawan also assured the Executive arm of government that both Chambers of the National Assembly would be readily disposed, should the need arise, to work on the planned review of the 2020 Budget before the legislature reconvenes on April 7, 2020.

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'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.

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