President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, thursday warned that trouble looms ahead if the federal government fails to urgently provide special relief for ordinary Nigerians to cushion the effect of stay-at-home order in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.
This is coming just as the House of Representatives also yesterday expressed its commitment towards ensuring that the epidemic is totally wiped out of the country.
Lawan, who gave the warning as a follow-up to Wednesday's meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and some ministers and heads of government agencies, emphasised that not making provisions ahead of time to address the basic needs of poor Nigerians may likely lead to more problems for the government, and less result in controlling the spread of the disease.
According to him, "our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time, because it is really taking a toll on our lives.
"If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people.
"As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people, because the United States of America that is talked about or the British Parliament is because this involves public funds.
"I'm not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake up trouble, because majority of our citizens go to market everyday before they can get something to eat.
"So, you lock them up in their houses with a threat of disease and without food. We need to have something, a plan of some sorts, in addition to making sure we don't lock up the farmers' market for example, where people can easily go and buy something, and of course pharmacies.
"This is a time to think deep and wide, to provide for our people, in order for us at least to deal with this challenge at the moment," Lawan advised.
He, therefore, called on the federal government to release special funds to cushion the effect of stay-at-home order on the ordinary Nigerians in the wake of the pandemic.
The Senate President, in addition, urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds are released to it by the federal government.
He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning will oversight the NCDC on the strict application of the N6.5 billion to be released for the fight against the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday expressed its commitment towards curbing the spread of virus in the country.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu said this in a phone conversation with THISDAY.
Kalu when asked if lawmakers will get tested for the virus, said the two weeks plenary adjournment is to also enable lawmakers check if symptoms of the disease will manifest in them.
He assured that any lawmaker who may have been exposed to the virus within this period will urgently seek the required medical attention, adding that such exposure is not a death license.