President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has called on the government to immediately devise ways of providing relief for poor citizens whose daily livelihood will be affected as a result of the restriction on movement due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
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 in Abuja.
According to the Senate President, besides mulling a total lockdown of business activities in the country, a plan must be devised by the Nigerian Government through the release of funds specifically for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies for ordinary Nigerians.
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 every day before they can get something to eat.
“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.
“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.”
Lawan 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 government.
He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning will oversight the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control on the strict application of the N6.5bn to be released for the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.