By Augustine Akhilomen
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has approved N10billion to the Lagos State Government as a grant to tackle the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari, in a statement he personally signed said Lagos remains the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak in the country, hence the grant will enable the State control and contain the outbreak as well as support other States with capacity.
Over the last few days, I have received extensive briefings on the state of the nation as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the relevant Federal Government agencies as well as the Lagos State Government.
The President also approved the immediate release of a N5 billion special intervention fund to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.
“The Nigerian Air Force is already making its fleet available to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, to enable a better coordinated and more effective response across the country,” he said.
Buhari also listed more stiffer steps the government would be taking henceforth to curtail any spread of the virus from the air, sea and land borders.
“To protect our homeland from external exposure, I directed the immediate closure of our International Airports and Land Borders for four weeks in the first instance, to enable us put up the appropriate policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases at home, without risking a compounding of the situation with more imported cases.
“The inconvenience caused by these flight and travel restrictions to our fellow citizens abroad who want to return home is regrettable, but it is necessary for the greater good, and I thank you all for your understanding and cooperation.
“I have also directed that only cargo vessels that have been at sea for more than 14 days be allowed to dock in our ports, after the crew have been tested and confirmed disease-free by the Port Health Authorities. This 14-day restriction however does not apply to vessels carrying oil and gas products as by their nature, there is minimal human contact.
“We have also suspended the movement of commuter trains to limit the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.
“I have directed the NCDC to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up our manpower as we respond to the pandemic.
“Furthermore, all NCDC staff and experts who are away on training or international assignments are to return immediately. Already the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) are conducting an evacuation mission to bring back some of our specialists in Central Africa, to enable them support the national response.
“I commend the monetary policy authorities for their financial intervention to support our entrepreneurs and companies as we go through this difficult time. We are also looking at fiscal measures to minimise the negative impact of this pandemic on the livelihood of millions of Nigerians,” Buhari said.