The Senate on Thursday appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that there is a relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood will be affected as a result of the restriction on movement due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The appeal was made by Senate President Ahmad Lawan following 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, before enforcing a total lockdown of business activities in the country, the Federal Government must ensure that funds are released to poor Nigerians specifically for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies.
Lawan, according to a statement by his Special Assistant (Press) Ezrel Tabiowo, in Abuja, 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. 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 the market every day before they can get something to eat.’’
The Senate President, further said the Federal Government must come up with a plan to ensure that people have access to food and drugs during the proposed lockdown.
He said ‘’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.’’
The Senate President, in addition, urged the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds are released to it by the Federal Government.