COVID-19: FG Approves $150m Stabilisation Fund

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari appending his signature.

 

The Federal Government has announced the approval of $150million stabilisation fund to meet shortfalls in monthly allocations.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, announced this on Monday, in Abuja during a media briefing on the measures to tackle the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

She explained that owing to the decline in the monthly allocations from N716 billion in January to N645 billion in February and N581 billion in March, the Federal Government has approved a stabilisation fund of $150 million to meet the short fall in monthly allocation.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: CBN Warns Nigerians Against Cyber Criminals, Fraudsters

She added that the amount would be withdrawn from the stabilisation fund component of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Ahmed during the briefing also announced the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund.

Part of the proceeds of the intervention fund will go into a special works program, which targets states and local governments and is expected to create one thousand jobs in each local government areas.

Other measures to be adopted by the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, according to Ahmed, include accessing loans from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank.

She gave a breakdown of expected loans from International Organisations to include $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF); $2.5 billion from the World Bank; and $1billion from the African Development Bank (ADB).

As part of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government also plans to restructure the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

This according to the Finance Minister is to allow for flexibility of donations into the Federal Government’s coffers.

SERAP Asks FG, CBN To Provide Spending Details On COVID-19 Relief Funds

SERAP Asks Buhari To Probe Bribery Allegation Against Ganduje

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to “provide spending details of public funds and private sector donations to provide socio-economic benefits to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, including details of beneficiaries of any cash payments, cash transfers, food distribution and other benefits during the lockdown in Abuja; Lagos and Ogun states because of COVID-19.”

SERAP also asked the Federal Government and CBN to: “disclose information on the details of the implementation of the school feeding programme during the lockdown and closure of schools in several states where the programme is being implemented, including the number of children that have so far benefited from the programme and the names of the communities, since the lockdown and closure of schools, as well as the number of cooks, engaged.”

In two Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent to Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, and Mr Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, SERAP said: “We are seriously concerned that millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have not benefited from the announced palliatives, donations, reported cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Ten New Cases Of COVID-19, One New Death Recorded

SERAP said: “Providing socio-economic benefits to the country’s poorest especially at this time of COVID-19 crisis is a matter of human rights, not charity. It is also implicit in Nigerians’ right to freely use their natural wealth and resources, which ought to be spent for the public good. Ensuring that relief funds and donations are used to provide much-needed benefits to beneficiaries is critical to keeping people alive, and addressing vulnerabilities and inequalities in the country.”

In the FoI requests dated 4 April 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Providing the information would help to address the concerns by many Nigerians regarding allegations of corruption and politicization in the distribution of benefits, improve public trust, and enhance the integrity of the entire processes and modes of distribution of reliefs/benefits to these Nigerians.”

The FoI requests read, in part: “Rather than making physical cash payments to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, we urge you to begin electronic cash transfers to all beneficiaries through individuals’ Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs), already available through the banks. This would be cost-effective at this time of crisis, provide immediate and significant benefits, as well as give individuals and families the freedom to spend the money on goods and services that best meet their particular needs.”

“If we have not heard from you within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of the FoI requests, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our requests.”

“Nigerian authorities are locking down states without adequately making provisions for the access of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people to basic necessities of life like food, healthcare, and other basic needs during the duration of the lockdown, and to address the corrosive impacts of COVID-19 on these Nigerians.”

“Rather than sending relief materials to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, which may be diverted and in any case, may not be what certain individuals and families may need, we urge you to focus more on urgently making electronic cash transfers to these Nigerians to determine by themselves how they wish to spend the money to meet their peculiar individuals’ and families’ needs.”

“Providing direct, regular, and unconditional electronic cash transfers to the country’s poorest and the most vulnerable people, including workers and pensioners that have not been paid for months is the best to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and to save millions of Nigerians’ lives. The power to spend cash helps preserve a person’s basic human dignity.”

“We urge you to refer to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prompt, thorough and transparent investigations of allegations of corruption in the distribution of relief funds and donations for COVID-19 and the politicization of the process for the distribution funds, as well as to urge the anti-corruption bodies to effectively prosecute any credible cases of corruption.”

“We are concerned that some 80 million of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people would be negatively affected by the lockdown and stay-at-home order without effective, transparent and direct socio-economic intervention funds, food, standard health care services, clean water, and other reliefs by the authorities.”

“We request you to provide us with copies of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) and the social national registers and the lists of beneficiaries under these registers that have so far benefited from any palliatives, donations, cash payments/transfers and other benefits during the lockdown.”

“According to our information, following the announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari of lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states and Abuja to reduce the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the Federal Government reportedly started disbursing N20,000 Conditional Cash Transfer to each of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people at the Kwali Area Council of Abuja.”

“According to reports, over 11 million of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have been identified in 35 states to benefit from the Federal Government cash transfers and other palliatives and reliefs.”

“We urge you to publish weekly spending details on COVID-19 relief funds and donations and the list of all beneficiaries.”

SERAP also urged the Federal Government and the CBN to provide:
Details of the number and list of all beneficiaries, including people living with disabilities (PWDs), who have so far benefited from the relief funds, donations in the forms of palliatives, cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits in Abuja, and Lagos and Ogun states and other states, because of COVID-19 pandemic, as well as details of what the authorities are doing to make these benefits available to the country’s poorest an equitable basis;
Details on modes of distribution of funds, donations, including the total amounts of food items, cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits that have so far been made;
Details of the total amounts from the proposed N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund that would be spent to provide direct electronic cash transfers and other direct benefits to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, as well as the number of such people planned to be reached in the next 6 months;
Details of the total amounts of donations from the private sector being coordinated by the Central Bank of Nigeria that have so far been received by the authorities and the list of donors that have not yet redeemed their pledges;
Number of trucks deployed to convey food and other relief materials to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and the total number of states that have so far benefited from such materials;
Details of any plan to provide social and economic benefits to the over 80 million of the country’s poorest and the most vulnerable people, beyond the 11 million targeted by the Federal Government across 35 states, as well as details of what the CBN is doing to use the donations to provide direct socio-economic benefits to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people on an equitable basis, and with geographical spread

President Buhari Signs COVID-19 Regulations 2020

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, which declared COVID-19 a dangerous infectious disease.

This according to Femi Adesina the special adviser to the President, is in line with the exercising of the powers conferred on Buhari by Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act (CAP Q2 LFN 2004), and all other powers enabling him in that behalf.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Confirms 20 New Coronavirus Cases

In his statement on Monday, the presidential spokesman noted that the regulations, effective March 30, 2020, also gave legal backing to the various measures outlined in the President’s National Broadcast on March 29, 2020, such as Restriction/Cessation of Movement in Lagos, FCT and Ogun State and others toward containing the spread of the pandemic in the country.

He added that to ensure that Nigerians can still perform on-line transactions and use ATMs whilst observing these restrictions, exemption is granted financial system and money markets to allow very skeletal operations in order to keep the system in light operations during the pendency of these regulations.

Buhari Orders Total Lockdown Of Lagos, Ogun And Abuja

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has imposed a curfew restricting movements in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.

The President disclosed in his address to the nation on Sunday, March 29.

Addressing Nigerians, the President said, “based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.”

He urged all citizens in these areas to stay in their homes, adding that travel to or from other states should be postponed.

All businesses and offices within these locations should also be fully closed during this period, President Buhari ordered.

The President revealed that the Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified.

Furthermore, the president also stated that heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.

Below is the full speech.

1. Fellow Nigerians,

2. From the first signs that Coronavirus, or COVID-19 was turning into an epidemic and was officially declared a world-wide emergency, the Federal Government started planning preventive, containment and curative measures in the event the disease hits Nigeria.

3. The whole instruments of government are now mobilized to confront what has now become both a health emergency and an economic crisis.

4. Nigeria, unfortunately, confirmed its first case on 27th February 2020. Since then, we have seen the number of confirmed cases rise slowly.

5. By the morning of March 29th, 2020, the total confirmed cases within Nigeria had risen to ninety-seven.

6. Regrettably, we also had our first fatality, a former employee of PPMC, who died on 23rd March 2020. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this very difficult time. We also pray for quick recovery for those infected and undergoing treatment.

7. As of today, COVID-19 has no cure. Scientists around the world are working very hard to develop a vaccine.

8. We are in touch with these institutions as they work towards a solution that will be certified by international and local medical authorities within the shortest possible time.

9. For now, the best and most efficient way to avoid getting infected is through regular hygienic and sanitary practices as well as social distancing.

10. As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this pandemic. By washing our hands regularly with clean water and soap, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and areas, coughing into a tissue or elbow and strictly adhering to infection prevention control measures in health facilities, we can contain this virus.

11. Since the outbreak was reported in China, our Government has been monitoring the situation closely and studying the various responses adopted by other countries.

12. Indeed, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was one of ten global health leaders invited by the World Health Organisation to visit China and understudy their response approach. I am personally very proud of Dr Ihekweazu for doing this on behalf of all Nigerians.

13. Since his return, the NCDC has been implementing numerous strategies and programs in Nigeria to ensure that the adverse impact of this virus on our country is minimized. We ask all Nigerians to support the work the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC are doing, led by the Presidential Task Force.

14. Although we have adopted strategies used globally, our implementation programs have been tailored to reflect our local realities.

15. In Nigeria, we are taking a two step approach.

16. First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and peace of mind.

17. To date, we have introduced healthcare measures, border security, fiscal and monetary policies in our response. We shall continue to do so as the situation unfolds.

18. Some of these measures will surely cause major inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of our country.

19. In Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, there is no such thing as an overreaction or an under reaction. It is all about the right reaction by the right agencies and trained experts.

20. Accordingly, as a Government, we will continue to rely on guidance of our medical professionals and experts at the Ministry of Health, NCDC and other relevant agencies through this difficult time.

21. I therefore urge all citizens to adhere to their guidelines as they are released from time to time.

22. As we are all aware, Lagos and Abuja have the majority of confirmed cases in Nigeria. Our focus therefore remains to urgently and drastically contain these cases, and to support other states and regions in the best way we can.

23. This is why we provided an initial intervention of fifteen billion Naira (N15b) to support the national response as we fight to contain and control the spread.

24. We also created a Presidential Task Force (PTF) to develop a workable National Response Strategy that is being reviewed on a daily basis as the requirements change. This strategy takes international best practices but adopts them to suit our unique local circumstances.

25. Our goal is to ensure all States have the right support and manpower to respond immediately.

26. So far, in Lagos and Abuja, we have recruited hundreds of adhoc staff to man our call centers and support our tracing and testing efforts.

27. I also requested, through the Nigeria Governors Forum, for all State Governments to nominate Doctors and Nurses who will be trained by the NCDC and Lagos State Government on tactical and operational response to the virus in case it spreads to other states.

28. This training will also include medical representatives from our armed forces, paramilitary and security and intelligence agencies.

29. As a nation, our response must be guided, systematic and professional. There is a need for consistency across the nation. All inconsistencies in policy guidelines between Federal and State agencies will be eliminated.

30. As I mentioned earlier, as at this morning we had ninety-seven confirmed cases. Majority of these are in Lagos and Abuja. All the confirmed cases are getting the necessary medical care.

31. Our agencies are currently working hard to identify cases and people these patients have been in contact with.

32. The few confirmed cases outside Lagos and Abuja are linked to persons who have travelled from these centres.

33. We are therefore working to ensure such inter state and intercity movements are restricted to prevent further spread.

34. Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.

35. All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.

36. The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.

37. We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.

38. This order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.

39. Furthermore, commercial establishments such as;

a. food processing, distribution and retail companies;

b. petroleum distribution and retail entities,

c. power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and

d. private security companies are also exempted.

40. Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored.

41. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.

42. All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these Ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.

43. Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.

44. Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.

45. Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a needs basis.

46. We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.

47. However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.

48. As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.

49. For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks.

50. Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.

51. Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.

52. I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

53. For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.

54. For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.

55. We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need.

56. As we all pray for the best possible outcome, we shall continue planning for all eventualities.

57. This is why I directed that all Federal Government Stadia, Pilgrims camps and other facilities be converted to isolation centers and makeshift hospitals.

58. My fellow Nigerians, as a Government, we will avail all necessary resources to support the response and recovery. We remain committed to do whatever it takes to confront COVID-19 in our country.

59. We are very grateful to see the emerging support of the private sector and individuals to the response as well as our development partners.

60. At this point, I will ask that all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending. The Presidential Task Force remains the central coordinating body on the COVID-19 response.

61. I want to assure you all that Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a role to play in the outbreak response are working hard to bring this virus under control.

62. Every nation in the world is challenged at this time. But we have seen countries where citizens have come together to reduce the spread of the virus.

63. I will therefore implore you again to strictly comply with the guidelines issued and also do your bit to support Government and the most vulnerable in your communities.

64. I will take this opportunity to thank all our public health workforce, health care workers, port health authorities and other essential staff on the frontlines of the response for their dedication and commitment. You are true heroes.

65. I thank you all for listening. May God continue to bless and protect us all.

President Muhammadu Buhari

29th March 2020.

Presidency Confirms That President Buhari Tested Negative For Coronavirus

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has tested negative for the novel Coronavirus.

This is according to a statement by the Presidency.

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina says the status is a thing of joy.

The report on Buhari’s status comes on the heels of a similar report regarding the health of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Governor Obaseki Goes Into Self-Isolation

The media aide to the Vice President, Laolu Akande had in a tweet on Tuesday noted that his principal was in self-isolation after the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, tested positive for the coronavirus.

However, on Wednesday, Akande stated that the Vice President had tested negative.

He said an official statement about the development will be issued by the Vice President’s Office soon.

COVID-19: Federal Public Servants Ordered To Stay At Home

 

Federal public servants have been ordered to observe a compulsory stay at home, even as the Federal Government continues to find ways by which the novel coronavirus can be combated and ousted from the country. 

The Federation’s Head of Service, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan in a communique on Monday, said the order is in line with measures by the Federal Government to manage the identified cases of COVID-19 and to curtail its spread.

Dr Yemi-Esan in her statement stressed that “as further steps to check the spread of COVID-19, all non-essential public servants on grade level 12 and below are to stay and work from home with effect from Tuesday 24th March 2020 until further notice”.

She also stated that all other categories of officers who will be at work are strongly advised to limit the number of visitors they receive to the barest minimum to reduce physical contact as much as possible.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Buhari Urges Nigerians In Lagos, Abuja To Stay At Home

 

Coronavirus: Buhari Urges Nigerians In Lagos, Abuja To Stay At Home

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised residents of Lagos and Abuja to stay indoors in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja.

“All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given,” Mr Mustapha said.

President Buhari also on Monday suspended the weekly Federal Executive Council meetings until further notice.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigerians Must Brace Up For Tougher Measures – Lai Mohammed

The President took the decision on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus.

The Task Force also approved other additional measures including, the postponement of the meeting of Council of State scheduled for Thursday the 26th of March 2020.

Other measures taken include that all land borders that have been hitherto under partial closure should now be closed to human traffic for 4 weeks effective from the 23rd of March, 2020.

The President also noted that in order to protect Federal Civil and Public Servants, a circular to be issued by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) will direct on actions to be taken immediately.

He also resolved that if and when the need arises, any national assets required for use in the response to COVID-19 will be mobilized and deployed.

An assurance was also given that at the highest level, engagements with state governors in order to ensure a collaborative and effective response to COVID19, are ongoing.

Coronavirus: Buhari Suspends FEC Meetings Until Further Notice

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the weekly FEC meetings until further notice.

This is coming on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus.

The Task Force also approved other additional measures including, the postponement of the meeting of Council of State scheduled for Thursday the 26th of March 2020.

Other measures taken include that all land borders that have been hitherto under partial closure shall now be closed to human traffic for 4 weeks effective from the 23rd of March, 2020.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigerians Must Brace Up For Tougher Measures – Lai Mohammed

Also, the presidency in a statement on Monday noted that in order to protect Federal Civil and Public Servants, a circular to be issued by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) shall direct on actions to be taken immediately.

The presidency further directed that if and when the need arises, any national assets required for use in the response to COVID-19 shall be mobilized and deployed.

An assurance was also given that at the highest level, engagements with state governors in order to ensure a collaborative and effective response to COVID19, are ongoing.

All Abuja and Lagos residents are also strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings until further advice is given.

SERAP Asks Buhari To Instruct EFCC, ICPC To Track, Monitor Spending On Coronavirus

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to use his leadership position to “urgently instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending by federal agencies and state governors to combat coronavirus or COVID19 pandemic in Nigeria.”

SERAP said this “would remove the risks of corruption and mismanagement in our healthcare systems that are already weakened by systemic corruption.”

In the letter dated 20 March 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Coronavirus crisis requires quick responses but it also requires corruption safeguards to ensure public funds are well spent, and promote access to basic public health and other services to those most in need.”

READ ALSO: Abuja Records One New Case Of Coronavirus, Bringing Total Number To 27

SERAP said: “By prioritising transparency and accountability in the spending of funds to combat coronavirus, your government will be taking preventive measures to ensure that the efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic and promote the health and safety of Nigerians are not compromised by corruption.”

SERAP expressed “concern that systemic corruption in the health sector across the country would hurt the federal and state authorities’ responses to the coronavirus crisis.”

The letter, read in part: “The challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic also show the urgent need for your government to improve Nigeria’s health systems and to encourage state governors to commit some parts of their security votes to provide additional resources towards strengthening the health systems within their states.”

“Your government ought to move swiftly to increase spending on efforts to combat coronavirus in the country and provide funding support to Nigerians that are most affected by the crisis, by presenting COVID-19 budget/spending plan to the National Assembly and setting up a COVID-19 trust fund to which wealthy individuals and others should be encouraged to contribute.”

“The proposed increase in spending of funds on COVID-19 means accountability for those funds should be top of your government’s list of priorities if it is to remove opportunities for corruption that can undermine initiatives to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

“The EFCC and ICPC should ensure that anyone found to have mismanaged or stolen public funds meant for addressing the coronavirus pandemic are effectively prosecuted and punished.”

“We also urge you to take urgent measures to ensure that health sector services in federal institutions and agencies are strengthened and that the appropriate corruption risk assessments are implemented and monitored.”

“The lessons from the Ebola crisis is that even in times of public emergencies, there are those who aim to profit from others most affected by the crisis. Monitoring the spending on coronavirus would help to apply the lessons of the Ebola crisis and prevent corruption, which characterised the efforts to combat it in some countries including in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where patients reportedly paid bribes to access health services.”

“Corruption in the spending of funds to combat coronavirus will undermine public trust in any efforts by your government to bring the spread of the pandemic under control, and deny access to basic public health services to Nigerians who need the services most.”

“Monitoring the spending of public funds budgeted to combat coronavirus would also ensure respect for human rights and contribute to ensuring that Nigerians who cannot afford to pay bribes are not denied access to testing and treatment and that high-ranking officials and wealthy individuals subject to quarantines are not abusing the systems.”

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and where appropriate invoke the Freedom of Information Act and take legal action to ensure transparency and accountability, and full respect for Nigerians’ human rights.”

“The right to health provides that health facilities, goods, and services should be: available in sufficient quantity, accessible to everyone without discrimination, and affordable for all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.”

“These obligations mean that your government should ensure that accurate and up-to-date information about the number of identified cases and spread of coronavirus in the country, access to services, service disruptions, and other aspects of the response to the outbreak is widely available and accessible to all.”

“The right to health also imposes obligations on your government to minimize the risk of occupational accidents and diseases including by ensuring health workers and others involved in the coronavirus response have information and adequate protective clothing and equipment they need.”

“This request is consistent with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption and human rights obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Nigeria has ratified these treaties.”

“Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Your government is obligated to take effective steps for the prevention, treatment, and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases.”

“As the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors state compliance with the covenant, has stated, the right to health is closely related to and dependent upon the realization of other human rights, including the rights to food, education, human dignity, life, non-discrimination, equality, and access to information.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in acting to ensure the effectiveness of any efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis in Nigeria. We would be happy to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

Coronavirus: Summon President Buhari Now, Ezekwesili Urges NASS

Former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili.

 

Former Presidential candidate in the 2019 General Elections, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has urged the leadership of the National Assembly to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address the lawmakers and the Nigerian public on his administration’s strategies and account of efforts at containing the Coronavirus pandemic and the global economic shock.

In a press statement made available to journalists, on Friday, through her Spokesperson and Publicist, Mr. Ozioma Ubabukoh, she stated that “at a time Nigeria is at war against a rapidly escalating pandemic of Coronavirus and an increasingly distressed, deteriorating and declining economy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari, is missing in action.”

READ ALSO: Reps Effect Withdrawal Of Sack Threat To FCT Doctors

While posing questions about President Buhari’s whereabouts, Ezekwesili, who is also a Co-convener of Bring Back Our Girls, declared, “Fellow Citizens, it is grossly irresponsible of Nigeria resident, General Muhammadu Buhari, to hide away from addressing and assuring his citizens at a time like this when leaders of other nations are doing much more.”

The former Education minister maintained that “it is grossly incompetent of the President that he moves around ‘Majoring in the Minors of declaring events open’, while his citizens are panicked about the fast accelerating health and economic crises.”

She added, “As a citizen of this country, I demand that the National Assembly, the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, must in the exercise of their oversight role, immediately invite President Buhari to render account and plans of his stewardship on the pandemic and economic wars the country is thrown into. Do this NOW.”

Ezekwesili said the National Assembly must act swiftly to wake up the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria to provide the Constitutional leadership he swore to provide, especially when the country faces any kind of war.

She said, “NASS must quickly avert any repeat of President Buhari’s lax counter-terrorism war that has cost the country too many lives. A contagion from deadly #CoronaVirus must be avoided immediately. NOW! Nigeria simply cannot afford the implications of an exponential increase in the number of citizens infected by #CoronaVirus. It is insensitive of the President to be mute at a time like this.

“That @followlasg published that it is already contact-tracing 1,300 Nigerians in one way or the other linked to confirm cases of the disease should worry us.

“Let President Buhari come out of his self-isolation and lead his country and people to win these wars. The economic impact of the health crisis will be severe on our majority’s extremely poor of more than 93 million. President Buhari must be reminded that leadership is not about personal comfort.”

Ezekwesili, who is a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, noted that Nigeria needed nothing less than “ evident effective leadership now.”

COVID-19: Presidency Berates Senate Over Demands For Buhari To Address Nigerians

 

The Presidency has rebuked the Senate for calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari to address Nigerians in a television broadcast with regards to the Coronavirus. 

At plenary on Wednesday, the Senate had asked President Buhari to address the country on the measures taken to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Reacting to the call, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement that such calls are ‘populist advocacies’ which are unnecessary at this time.

Mr Shehu further noted that such calls by members of the Senate are cheap and sensational.

“Populist advocacies such as the one accusing the President of “complacency” simply because he has not made a television address by ranking members of our respected parliament are cheap and sensational. These are not the times for populism and cheap politics,” the President’s aide stated.

READ ALSO: Senate Asks FG To Restrict Large Gatherings Over Coronavirus

According to Mr Shehu, Nigeria, like every other country around the world, is dealing with the unexpected and unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Muhammadu Buhari administration has taken some steps to mitigate the effects on the Nigerian people.

He said that the Federal Government does not want to create panic, adding that the government will continue to update the Nigerian public with relevant information.

The presidential Spokesman pleaded with every Nigerian to cooperate with the government in the fight against COVID-19 and obey all instructions from the NCDC.

He assured that there is a high level Presidential Coordination Committee chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), adding that the body should be allowed to carry out its duties.

“We also plead with Nigerians not to see this most peculiar of times as one to be politicised or seen as an opportunity to regurgitate grudges against the government or the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). North, South, East, and West – all Nigerians must unite to fight this plague, irrespective of religious or ideological affiliation,” Mr Shehu said.

Speaking on the measures put in place by the FG to prevent the spread of cases imported into Nigeria, Mr Shehu said the President has already ordered the restrictions of travel from 13 countries, each with more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

He added that the government has also suspended visas issued to nationals of these countries. The restriction will take effect from March 20 and will remain until further notice. While Nigeria delights in welcoming the world, the safety and protection of our citizens and land must take priority.

“The various agencies of government including Media owned by the government have embarked on vigorous campaigns promoting hygiene measures. There are, currently, very stringent regimes of checks at the points of air and sea entry into the country. The effort Nigeria is making as is well known, has already received the commendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“The Presidency wishes to assure Nigerians that government is on top of the situation. There is no cause for panic. So far measures put in place are working efficiently. What this country is doing has been recommended as a template.

“The President trusts the relevant Ministers in his cabinet and the officials of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), who are providing him with constant updates and professional counsel. These officials have a track record of competence.

“The President instructed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to reduce the pump price of fuel. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a crash in the global price of crude oil, and the President decided that every Nigerian should benefit from this.

“Subsequently, the NNPC announced a 20 naira deduction, and the pump price of fuel has now been reduced from 145 naira per litre to 125 naira per litre.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday announced a credit relief of N1.1Trillion Naira to businesses affected by the pandemic. The Bank has also established a facility for household, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and announced a reduction of interest rates for loans from 9% to 5%,” the spokesman’s communique read in part.

On behalf of President Buhari, Mr Shehu thanked all those at the forefront of the fight against the deadly disease in Nigeria.

PHOTOS: Buhari Receives Senate President, Yobe Governor In Abuja

President Buhari receives Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on March 19, 2020. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday received the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.

The duo met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Nullifies Judgment Sacking Ifeanyi Ubah

Although the details of the meeting are unknown, it may not be unconnected with the security challenges facing the northeast region.

See Photos Below: