The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives has urged the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and his colleagues in leadership, to send salaries donated towards the fight against coronavirus; directly to states instead of the federal purse.
This was contained in a statement signed by the leader of the PDP caucus, Ogundu Chinda, in Abuja, on Thursday.
The caucus said it was, “most dissatisfied with the distribution of palliatives by the Federal Government,” saying the COVID-19 palliative measures outlined in the broadcast of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, were “not far-reaching enough and some were completely inapplicable.”
The lawmakers appealed to security personnel to be civil in dealing with the public.
Chinda, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken our country on an emergency course, unexpected and unanticipated at the beginning of the year.
“It is our considered view that the palliative measures outlined in the presidential broadcast and regulation are not far-reaching enough, while some are completely inapplicable.
“We must learn quickly from experience by ensuring that immediate measures on food security are ramped up.
“One way of doing this is to open up our national food and grain reserves across the country and distribute food to the poorest of the poor in our country at the local government level.
“The President should as a matter of utmost urgency, issue an Executive Order, pursuant to his powers preserved by Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, directing the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, National Food Reserve Agency and the National Emergency Management Authority to release and manage the distribution of food in our national reserves.
“We align with the leadership of the House under Speaker Gbajiabiamila in the sacrifice of donating our salaries to assist our vulnerable constituents at this trying time but we must add that the Speaker and the leadership of the House should consider sending the deductions of our caucus members directly to their various states as we are most dissatisfied with the distribution of palliatives by the Federal Government.”
The lawmakers demanded that the Federal Government should maximize the period of the lockdown and open up free testing and treatment centers in the various zones in the country.
In a related development, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu, on Thursday described the 2,000 COVID-19 tests so far conducted across the country as insufficient.
He called for an upgrade of the polymerase chain reaction laboratories across the country to facilitate mass-testing for the virus.
Okechukwu said this in a statement in Abuja, on Thursday.
He said, “The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has told us that only 2,000 Nigerians have been tested in over one month of combating COVID-19. This figure is quite low for a country of about 200 million people.
“Our first line of responsibility on this, therefore, is to ensure that testing services are available in, at least, all the states of the federation. If we are tracing over 6,000 contacts, then we need more testing facilities.”