President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was affecting the country's main source of revenue.
President Buhari spoke on the impact of COVID-19 on the nation's revenue for the first time when workers in the health sector under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly Healthcare Professionals Associations (AHPA) paid him a courtesy call at the State House, Abuja.
On Monday, the Federal Government announced the possibility of an impending plan to reduce the N10.6tn 2020 National Budget, following the impact of the outbreak of Coronavirus on the global crude oil price.
A five-man committee led by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, was constituted to tackle the issue.
Hajiya Ahmed said the committee, which would be meeting the President, would revisit the current crude oil benchmark price at $57 per barrel by reducing the amount.
The oil benchmark is currently at $31 per barrel due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in some countries across the world.
The President, while addressing members of JOHESU and AHPA, appealed to workers in the health sector to bear with the administration in their demands as it braced up for the challenges posed by coronavirus to the economy.
He assured that government was looking into their issues with a view to resolving them.
"Your case is certainly receiving attention, but you must bear in mind the condition that the country is in now. Coronavirus is not improving matters. It is affecting what we very much depend on, the petroleum industry and therefore revenue," he said in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu.
President Buhari also called on the visitors to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of their members in these trying times and continue to work for further development of the country.
"So, please try and help us with your people. Let us be patriotic, let us look at the ways and means of the government and appeal for restrain... We have to emphasize that it is very important we maintain cohesion together, because if we allow sentiments or popularity to overwhelm our reasoning faculties, we will be in trouble and it will be too late for us to adjust, so please bear with us," said the President.
He said his administration's successful drive for food sufficiency in the last four years would come in handy now with the drop in government revenue.
"We thank God. God is very sympathetic to us. The three previous rainy seasons were good. We had good foresight in getting fertiliser, making it available and we virtually achieved food security. We made good decisions, and we saved hundreds of millions of dollars on importation of food. If not, we would have been in real trouble," he added.
JOHESU, an amalgam of five registered trade unions and AHPA, under the leadership of Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, met the President on some of the contentious issues in the sector and to thank him for some of the positive developments.
They appreciated President Buhari's prompt release of funds for tackling Coronavirus and thanked him for assenting to the National Health Act which provides for a one percent consolidated fund for the health sector.
They also thanked the President for rejecting the advice of stakeholders, who clamoured for the privatization of the health sector, which would have deprived the masses access to affordable healthcare.
They further asked for the President's intervention in adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS); withheld April and May 2018 salaries of members; gazetting of scheme of service for nurses; and restoration of teaching allowances among others.