…direct CBN to brief on emergency funding procedures
….seek import or excise duty on essential medical equipment
OrderPaperToday– The House of Representatives has directed the Federal Ministry of Education to immediately make available to Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), hostels in the now-vacated federal government colleges across the country as emergency care centres and isolation units by the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
This was part of the Green Chamber’s suggestions to the executive as emergency measures to protect Nigerians and the economy from the potentially dire consequences of a widespread outbreak of Covid-19.
The lawmakers made this decision after adopting the resolutions of a motion sponsored by the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila at plenary on Tuesday.
The House said this measure should be adopted if it becomes necessary to do so to manage high numbers of people requiring treatment from the COVID-19 disease.
It also mandated the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately develop contingency plans for the establishment of emergency care facilities at the federal government colleges.
“These contingency plans should include cost estimates for the provision of equipment, material, medicines and other such requirements as may become necessary,” the House said.
The Green Chamber further directed the Federal Ministry of Health to work with the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) and other such stakeholders to develop plans for the deployment of a corps of doctors and medical professionals to these emergency care centres as the need arises.
The House urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of its policy measures in response to COVID-19, to act urgently to fully fund the establishment and operations of these emergency health centres across the country.
They equally resolved to invite the governor and senior management of the CBN to brief the leadership of the House on the details of the apex bank’s policy measures in response to the pandemic, including the procedure and requirements for the disbursement of earmarked intervention funds under the emergency policy measure.
While commending efforts so far taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria to prevent the occurrence of Covid-19 pandemic in the country, they urged President Buhari to exercise his authority under the Customs, Excise Tariffs, Etc. (Consolidation) Act to remove any import or excise duty on essential medical equipment as determined by the Minister of Health to be necessary for the management of the disease in the country.
Earlier, while raising the motion, Gbajabiamila said Coronavirus has emerged as the most significant threat to the physical, mental and economic wellbeing of the people and nations of the world.
“The alarming levels of spread and severity of the disease have caused the World Health Organisation (WHO) to rightly classify the outbreak of Covid-19 as a pandemic, as the spread of the disease has now reached every corner of the world with 341,000 recorded infections and 14,700 deaths globally. He said these numbers continue to increase rapidly, almost on an hourly basis”, he said.
He also argued that the novelty of “the disease combined with its rapid spread has caught the world almost unawares and there is, for the most part, no preexisting framework for managing the short, medium and long term consequences of the pandemic. As such we are left to adopt and implement emergency measures on the fly and in the expectation that our efforts may help to avert the worst consequences of this new threat.
“The existing healthcare framework and facilities in the country are not sufficiently robust to provide an effective and lifesaving response in the likely event of a largescale outbreak of the Covid-19 disease within our shores.
“We do not have enough hospital beds, Intensive Care Units, respirators, testing kits, thermal disinfection equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). We are also short on the numbers of medical personnel required to manage a significant national outbreak of the disease.”
Gbajabiamila continued, “If we, in our capacity as representatives of the people, are determined to act quickly and of one accord, we have it within our power to avert some of these consequences and ensure that we cushion the worst effects of this emerging crisis, and all its dimensions.
“Our interventions at this time require the full cooperation and support of the Executive Arm of government, without which not much will be achieved. Therefore, we will seek to act in unison, making sure that our interventions complement the actions already being taken by the ministries, department and agencies of the government, and support the plans already in place.”
The House unanimously adopted the motion when put to voice vote by the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase.