Abuja and Lagos — The federal government wednesday lamented that COVID-19 has attacked all sources of Nigeria's revenues.
Answering questions from State House correspondents after yesterday's Federal Executive Council meeting, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the disease had adversely affected global economy with $1 trillion lost in aviation industry alone.
According to him, with the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and Abuja for several weeks and crude oil being sold at $18 per barrel, Nigeria's losses are monumental.
He said: "We are not just Nigerians; we are all witnessing what is going on in the world today. When the budget was passed in December last year, we all celebrated that the budget was passed for the first time in a good time to allow us to plan. We were very hopeful that this year, we will be able to achieve a lot.
"I remember that the benchmark for crude oil was $57 but from nowhere today we have COVID-19, which has brought every economy in the world to its knees. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
"As a matter of fact, we are praying that the crude will go to $30 per barrel. All sources of revenue have been attacked by COVID-19. When we lock our borders how will goods come in? How will customs make money for the country?
"Abuja, Lagos and Ogun have been on lockdown for more than four weeks. It was only yesterday that we were easing the lockdown. How will they make money to pay taxes? So, if we say there is no money it is not because we are seeking lame excuses."
He said the entire world, not just Nigeria was facing serious fiscal challenges, explaining that 40 million people in the US today had filed for unemployment even as he added that the aviation industry alone had lost about $1 trillion.
He said: "So, please look at this in context, if you budgeted for $57 a barrel and we sold at $18 a barrel two weeks ago; this is why the minister of finance at the last council meeting, informed all of us that they will slash every ministry's budget by 20 per cent capital and 16 per cent overhead.
"So, where will the money come from? So, when we complain there is no money, it is genuine.
"If you know what is being spent on COVID-19 alone and what it is costing the whole world, you will be able to appreciate this better."
348 Fresh Cases Push Total to 11,166 with 315 Dead
Meanwhile, 348 new confirmed cases and one death were recorded in Nigeria yesterday, bringing the total infections to 11,166 with 3,329 persons discharged and 315 deaths recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The 348 new cases, announced last night by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were from 19 states, including Lagos 163, FCT 76, Ebonyi 23, Rivers 21, and Delta, Nasarawa and Niger have eight each.
Enugu has six; Bauchi, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Gombe five each; Benue four; and Ogun, two.
Osun, Plateau, Kogi, and Anambra have one each.
WHO Resumes Hydroxychloroquine Clinical Trials
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday resumed clinical trial of Hydroxychloroquine after pausing research on the drug for the treatment of COVID-19 last week.
WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said at a press briefing that new information had suggested that there was no reason to modify the trial protocol, hence the continuation of the research.
He said: "As you know, last week the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the Hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug.
"This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed. The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee of the Solidarity Trial has been reviewing the data. On the basis of the available mortality data, the members of the committee recommended that there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol.
"The Executive Group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including Hydroxychloroquine. The group will communicate with the principal investigators in the trial about resuming the Hydroxychloroquine arm."
He said the Data Safety and Monitoring Committee would continue to closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the solidarity trial, adding that so far, more than 3,500 patients have been recruited in 35 countries.
He restated WHO's commitment to accelerating the development of effective therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics as part of its commitment to serving the world with science, solutions, and solidarity.