COVID-19: Atiku pledges N50m relief fund as Edo Speaker contracts virus

By David Olalekan.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has called on federal and state governments to initiate palliative measures for Nigerians as the country battles the rampaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Atiku, in a statement on Wednesday, applauded state governors for proactively taking measures in containing the spread of the infectious disease.

He, however, noted that a large percentage of Nigerians do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation or lockdown, hence the need for government at all levels to provide palliatives to the people to enable them survive.

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, urged the Federal Government to devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, while enjoining telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least N1500 per mobile line.

He said: “At an approximate 30 million households or thereabouts, the government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind.

“It is thus time for the National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that will cater for all Nigerian citizens.

“I also call on all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that the government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance. I also urge these telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ₦1500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service, as the case may be.”

Atiku added, “To this end, Priam Group pledges N50 million on my behalf as my humble contribution to a relief Fund that will form part of the stimulus package.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, has been confirmed as the index case of COVID-19 in the state.

According to the State Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, who made the disclosure today while briefing newsmen in Benin, Hon. Okiye went into self-isolation immediately after returning from a recent trip to the United Kingdom.

“He sent his sample for testing and the test came back positive. He is in a stable condition and his family members have been tested and the tests came back negative”, the deputy governor said.

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