Nigeria: COVID-19 - Buhari Wants Prompt Payment of Salaries Sustained

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to ensure prompt and continuous payment of salaries.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, who heads the presidential committee to review the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, disclosed this on Thursday while fielding questions from State House reporters in Abuja.

Hajiya Ahmed, who said President Buhari also ordered the ministry to protect critical infrastructure like roads and rails by using local inputs for the country to retain value within her economy, added that he (Buhari) directed that measures be put in place to protect the poor and the vulnerable.

The minister, who spoke on the directives and the motive behind the meeting, said: "Well, he has directed that we should make sure that salaries are paid, make sure that critical infrastructures like roads, rails are protected; and as much as possible, use local inputs so that we retain value within our economy. And also make sure that we put in place measures that protect the poor and the vulnerable.

"This meeting was just to brief Mr. President as the situation we are in keeps evolving on a daily basis. As the health crisis gradually expands, affecting States and also the lockdown that has been ordered to help curtail expansion of the health crisis.

"The consequences of the lockdown are the additional slowing down of the economy and the measures that we need to take to mitigate the negative consequences of the slow trade and businesses."

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who is a member of the committee, said the collapsing oil prices on daily basis which had affected the nation's economy made it necessary to constantly brief the President as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world.

Similarly, Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while speaking, said: "The global economy like we all know at this time will naturally suffer growth problems and may even lead to recession globally. So, we are trying to see what we can do as a country to rescue our own situation so we don't go the direction many will go.

"It is not going to be easy but we can only assure our people that we are on top of it and that we will resolve it and Nigerians will still be better for it."

Members of the committee also include the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.

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