OrderPaperToday– Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has disclosed that the 360 members of the House of Representatives have resolved to donate a hundred percent of their two months salary to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
He added that the donation, which comes to about N500 million (five hundred million naira), which the clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Omolori, has been directed to forward to the National Relief Fund, does not include other personal contributions by lawmakers to alleviate the hardship that their constituents are faced with because of the national emergency.
In a message to Nigerians on the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria, the speaker said the donation starts from March salary and will be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund account for the fight against COVID-19, he said.
In the message which was released by the speaker’s media team in electronic and print forms, Gbajabiamila said, “We have in the House of Representatives, jointly committed to contributing one hundred per cent (100%) of our salaries for the next two months to the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“Our contribution will support provisions for the welfare of frontline medical professionals and health workers, and other interventions to provide for the wellbeing of all Nigerians through these trying times.
“Accordingly, I have directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to see to it that all members’ salaries are transferred to the National Relief Fund for this month and the next.
“This is independent of ongoing individual efforts by members to alleviate the suffering brought on by this virus and to improve the living conditions of citizens in their various constituencies.”
…to conduct oversight on disbursement of donations
Gbajabiamila added that the House would exercise its oversight power to ensure faithful administration of all emergency funds and contributions made so far to ensure they serve the purpose for which they were intended.
“The House has already mandated the Committees on Health and Disaster Preparedness to diligently oversee the distribution of items donated by local and foreign donors to ensure proper management,” he stated.
…asks CBN to give cash grants to 774 LGs
He also added, “The House also calls on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of its Policy Measures in Response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to immediately direct cash grants to the seven hundred and seventy-four (774) Local Government Area administrations in the country to provide food and other essentials to at-risk individuals and communities.”
… says reps will pursue adequate upgrade of health institutions after end of pandemic
While imploring Nigerians to adhere strictly to the guidelines given by relevant authorities to prevent further spread of the disease as Nigeria could not afford to have a large scale outbreak of the disease, he lamented that “this crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system. After this is over and moving forward, we must do everything in our power to ensure that we will never again come upon a moment such as this, as ill-equipped as we are now.”
Decrying the poor state of the nation’s health systems, he noted that “the transmission of this disease at a scale for which our systems are not prepared is our biggest present threat. We alleviate that threat by self-isolating. The bad news of this disease is that everyone is a potential victim, but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.”
…calls for compliance to all NCDC guidelines and directives on curbing the spread of Coronavirus
The speaker, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to follow self-isolation guidelines and other directives aimed at curbing further spread of the virus in the country.
“Keep in mind that if we do not rigorously follow these self-isolation guidelines, all our other efforts will at the end of the day come to nothing. Let this be for all of us, a time for introspection and prayer, a time to commune with God. Let us spend time with our children. Study, write, meditate and exercise. Do whatever you must to get through this period but do it at home.
“We are at war and our mission is first to survive, and then to overcome. These objectives require that we act in unison and remain laser-focused on the challenge at hand. I ask all of you to continue to take care of yourselves. Follow the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Do not disseminate information of uncertain provenance.
“Do not panic but make sure that those around you understand the risks of this disease and the challenges we face and must overcome together. If we do all that we are called to do at this time, it won’t be long now before we can with joy and thanksgiving together declare mission accomplished.”
…applauds health workers’ sacrifices
Gbajabiamila also applauded the sacrifices made by all the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals “who give their best through long hours in the laboratory, in hospitals and emergency care units providing comfort and treatment to mend the sick and heal our country.
“I thank you; your country thanks you. And I assure you that the House of Representatives will act to provide for you now in the heat of this battle against disease and death and after when we have won the battle and saved our land.”
…commends, pledges House support for efforts by Buhari on addressing challenges caused by the pandemic
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for the ongoing efforts of the federal government to manage the outbreak and alleviate its adverse economic and social impact on Nigerians, the speaker said the House would, in every way it could, “continue to support these efforts to ensure that our people make it through this difficult time with dignity and peace of mind.
…urges governors to remain steadfast in protecting their citizens from infections
“A lot of the responsibility for managing this outbreak, caring for those who become ill and catering to at-risk populations will fall to the state governments. I applaud those state governors who have risen to the challenge of the times with innovation and steady leadership, I encourage them to remain steadfast.
“I ask that governors of states that haven’t had any confirmed cases proceed as if they have, taking all precautions and making all the same preparations as in those states where there have been established cases.”
Gbajabiamila also expressed profound appreciation “to all the individuals and organisations who have stepped up to support federal and state governments’ efforts to manage the present crisis.”
“Let it be that when we think of this moment and of the roles we have each played, our memories are filled with the remembrance of heroes and the names of those who in their lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with their honour,” Gbajabiamila concluded.
Recall that yesterday, senators also disclosed a donation of half of their monthly salaries to the fight against the virus till it is eradicated in the country.