In an address to the Nation broadcast, the Nigerian leader said more vulnerable people would be provided with sustainable assistance to help them bear the pains of the lockdown by another two weeks, starting Monday 11:59pm
``In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained.’’
These measures will help support an additional one million homes with the nation’s social investment programs and that a technical committee was working on it and would submit a report by the end of this week.
``No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy. I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, day-workers, artisans and manual workers.
“For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and about seeking work,” he said.
In this respect, President Buhari said a joint comprehensive policy is the pipeline to build a sustainable economy despite the pandemic.
“To ensure our economy adapts to this new reality, I am directing the ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Communication and Digital Economy, Science and Technology, Transportation, Aviation, Interior, Health, Works and Housing, Labour and Employment and Education to jointly develop a comprehensive policy for a Nigerian economy functioning with Covid-19”.
“The ministers will be supported by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee in executing this mandate.
“I am also directing the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Security Adviser, the Vice-Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to work with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized.’’
In his address, all these measures are justified by the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Nigeria.
As on Monday, the country had 323 confirmed cases in 20 States, with 10 deaths and 85 recoveries. As Lagos State remains the centre and accounts for 54% of the confirmed cases, it represents with the Federal capital territory Abuja over 71% of the cases.
President Buhari recalled that during the initial 14-day lockdowns (Lagos, Abuja and Ogun) decided on March 30, Nigeria implemented comprehensive public health measures that intensified case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities.