The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday contradicted the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on the payment of N620 million to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), an amount budgeted for the emergency response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Contrary to the announcement that the money had been paid to the agency in full, the lawmaker stressed that no kobo was released.
He, therefore, asked the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to immediately release the money to the health agency.
The minister, at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday last week, said the Federal Government had released every fund needed by the Port Health Services and the NCDC, which he described as the nation’s first and second lines of defence for coronavirus.
According to him, the Port Health Services received about N70 million while the NCDC got N620 million.
Ehanire admitted that Nigeria used to have very little quantity of reagents to diagnose coronavirus, but the supply of the substances has been improved.
The Senate President, however, said, “I am sad, we are indeed actually sad, that of the N620 million that was supposed to be released to this place for fixing of everything here to NCDC, not a kobo has been released.
“We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities that have anything to do with this to release this money latest between today and tomorrow (Thursday).”
Lawan spoke when he led the leadership of the Senate on a tour of isolation centres located at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
He regretted that the temporary isolation centre was not in good shape, stressing that it doesn’t look ready to receive any patient.
“We are in an emergency, even if we don’t have people who are affected, we shouldn’t just rest on our oars.
“We have to do everything and anything possible to fix that temporary isolation centre to be prepared to receive anyone who falls sick in this respect,” said the lawmaker.
The Senate President was worried that Nigeria has yet to have a completed Isolation Centre in the north-central geo-political zone that would provide emergency response to disease outbreak in the country.
He, therefore, asked those saddled with leadership responsibilities in the country to live up to expectations through the timely discharge of their mandates and duties.
Lawan said, “There’s no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of 200 million, and yet the Federal Capital and six surrounding states of the North Central; you don’t have one room that you can call an isolation centre, where anyone who unfortunately falls into this crisis will be taken to. This is not acceptable.
“So, we are going to ensure that the money is released, we are going to put pressure. This is what they are supposed to do, and they must do it.”