Madagascar: Coronavirus - Reps Urge FG to Sponsor Experts to Madagascar, Senegal

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, urged the federal government to sponsor experts on a study trip to Madagascar and Senegal for possible indigenous COVID-19 cure.

Madagascar has claimed to have found a cure for the virus while Senegal has developed an inexpensive coronavirus diagnostic kit.

The green chamber also asked the government to set aside a ₦15 billion emergency fund for tertiary institutions in the country as a response to the impact COVID-19 has had and will have on them.

The House also resolved that part of this fund should be used to establish an infectious diseases research institute in six selected universities across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

It followed this by tasking tertiary institutions to launch a "Coronavirus Student Emergency Fund," from which indigent and vulnerable students can draw from to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

These unanimous resolutions were adopted after a motion was moved by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta).

He said it is estimated that "tertiary institutions will experience at least a 15% reduction in enrolment," thereby reducing the rate at which students would consider enrolling into tertiary education after the pandemic.

He added that the looming likelihood that parents will lose their jobs would also make tertiary institutions' tuition income to nose-dive

He noted that with the emergency fund, "students may demand fee reduction and waivers in the light of economic recession coupled with the shock of unemployment rates that could reach an estimated global average of 25%, higher education may also seem like a luxury for many."

Mr Elumelu further noted that there is a need to support institutions who are showing prospects of developing locally made equipment in the fight against COVID-19.

Last week, for instance, a team of engineers in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, unveiled a locally invented ventilator.

The lawmaker argued that "strategic additional funding could increase their capacity in this regard," adding that the Nigerian government should learn from the U.S. and Canada.

Mr Elumelu's motion was co-sponsored by his fellow PDP lawmakers Fred Obua (Bayelsa), Francis Agbo (Benue), Makwe Livinus (Ebonyi), Aniekan Umanah (PDP, Akwa Ibom).

Other co-sponsors were APC lawmakers: Steve Azaiki (Bayelsa), Betara Aliyu (Borno), Olaide Akinremi (Oyo), Kabiru Tukura (Kebbi) and Mahmud Gaya (Kano).

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