Nigeria: Reps Donate Two Months' Salary to Combat Coronavirus

(file photo).

The entire members of the House of Representatives have resolved to donate their two months salary to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, made the announcement in a video he shared on Facebook, Tuesday afternoon.

The Reps' announcement is coming about 24 hours after their Senate counterpart made an announcement to donate 50 per cent of their salary.

The two-month salary donation, the Speaker said, would be independent of the contributions by individual lawmakers to alleviate the hardship that their constituents face at this time of national emergency.

Mr Gbajabiamila said the lawmakers' donation would be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund account for the fight against COVID-19.

"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."

He said 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.

Thus, 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 said.

Mr Gbajabiamila also said the House has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make cash grants to the 774 local government areas in the country to alleviate the suffering of the masses.

"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."

The Speaker implored Nigerians to adhere strictly to the guidelines given by relevant authorities to prevent further spread of the disease, saying Nigeria could not afford to have a large scale outbreak of the disease.

"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.

"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.

"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."

The Speaker 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."

Other donations

Few days before the Senate's contribution, ministers serving under the current administration announced they would donate half of their March salaries to help fight the pandemic.

Banks, private organisations and individuals have donated billions to fight the epidemic in Nigeria.

The United Bank for Africa on Thursday announced a N5 billion donation.

Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Herbert Wigwe and Segun Agbaje also donated N1 billion each to support the cause.

In a long-awaited speech, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said the presidential task-force will receive and coordinate all donations made to fight against the pandemic in the country.

Outbreak

Nigeria reported its first confirmed case on February 27 and the number of cases has since risen.

As of today, the country has reported 135 cases. The breakdown according to states shows that Lagos has recorded the highest, followed by the FCT.

Other states with recorded cases are Oyo, Ogun, Enugu, Edo, Bauchi, Osun, Ekiti, Rivers, Benue and Kaduna.

Meanwhile, two deaths have so far been reported from the outbreak.

Mr Buhari has ordered a lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states for 14 days to curb the spread of the virus

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