The Federal Government says funds donated by the private sector towards fighting Coronavirus are meant for development of healthcare infrastructure and cannot be used to provide palliatives during lockdown.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation yesterday, when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme, “Politics Nationwide.”
Mohammed was responding to comments from Nigerians requesting that part of the billions of naira being donated by public-spirited individuals and private institutions should be shared to the people to cushion the effect of the extended lockdown.
The minister said that the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus was neither with the money nor in control of it, and could not share a penny from the fund to anyone.
”The private sector donors are not giving any cash to the federal government and they have made this clear to the people.
“They said they will support the fight against the pandemic by asking government where they want healthcare infrastructure to be provided.
“What government has done is to request them to build a 30-bed isolation ward and a 10-bed Intensive Care Unit in each state in the country.
“In addition, the federal government has given them a list of equipment and commodities that will also be needed
“Therefore, the issue of using their donations to provide palliative cannot arise,” he said.
Mohammed further said that in addressing the issue of palliative, every country adopted peculiar strategy that was workable and acceptable.
He said that Nigeria was leading and remains the best in the whole of Africa in the area of provision of palliative to citizens as the world battles the scourge.
The minister said that the federal government had taken a lot of measures to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on Nigerians, including food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers.
He recalled that on March 18, government reduced the price of petrol from N145 per litre to N125 per litre, with that reduction going further down to N123.50 per litre.
The minister added that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans as well as Federal Government-funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
He said that interest rates for intervention fund had been slashed from nine to five per cent, while the CBN put aside N50 billion fund to help SMEs.
Mohammed said that to cushion effect of the lockdown, satellite towns around Lagos and Abuja were being given relief materials while the vulnerable and those in IDP camps are being taken care of.
He said that besides the two months payment of Conditional Cash Transfer monthly stipend, the President ordered that the social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks.
The minister said that the President had set up a ministerial committee to ensure the economy adapted to the new reality and another body to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 farming season.
Recall that apart from the 30 million dollar (about ¦ 11.4 billion) recently donated by the NNPC and 33 of its partners, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had said that monetary contributions by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), has totaled up to about N15 billion.
According to its spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, the fund, domiciled in an account set up under CACOVID, has so far received donations from 37 donors including individuals, banks and other corporate organisations.
Details of the contributions showed that the CBN and Aliko Dangote Foundation contributed N2 billion each.
Abdul Samad Rabiu (BUA Sugar Refinery), Segun Agbaje (GTB), Tony Elumelu (UBA), Oba Otudeko (First Bank), Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank), Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank) and Femi Otedola of Amperion Power Distribution donated N1 billion each to the relief fund.
‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’
The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier released different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.
Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs
Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”
Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession
The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.
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