Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has said that it remains unbelievable for advanced countries that Nigeria and other African countries survive the first phase of the dreaded global pandemic, Covid 19 scourge.
The Minister was speaking in Ado Ekiti Monday evening, while delivering a lecture titled Covid 19: The Economy and Security, organized by the Faculty of Arts, Ekiti State University, (EKSU).
According to him, world ‘experts’ had predicted Nigeria and other African countries would collapse under the damaging economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic which crippled world economies and collapsed health systems in developed countries.
“COVID-19 hit us but the government was able to mitigate the consequences. It also brought out the capacity of the Nigerian people for resilience in the face of adversity, and the milk of human kindness in the way a lot of our compatriots demonstrated generosity and acts of kindness to the less privileged in our midst.
“The Federal Government impaneled the Presidential Task Force which immediately swung into action, coordinating with the NCDC and the Ministry of Health, all of government’s response and holding daily national televised briefing.”
The minister also noted that other measures put in place by the federal government such as the enforcement of non-pharmaceutical policies of lockdown, isolation, stopping interstates movements, maintaining social distance, wearing of face-masks, and aggressive public enlightenment, contributed in no small way to tackle the pandemic.
He admitted that there were still casualties, which could have been avoided, but were minimal to projection by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, (WHO) that Nigeria, among some other developing countries, would suffer heavy casualties from the disease.
“Bill Gates was later reported to have heaved a sigh of relief that his prediction of mass casualties was falsified.”
Ogbeni Aregbesola gave credit to scientists and others, that worked in the health sector for effectively managing the pandemic and also developing a vaccine in record time to assist humanity.
The Minister also commended efforts of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) for the efforts to assist the government in militating against the effect of the Pandemic, noting that in April 2020, the Federal Government commenced the transfer of N20,000 to poor and vulnerable households registered in the National Social Register (NSR).
“The NSR was increased from 2.6 million households (about 11 million people) to 3.6 million households during the Covid-19 crisis. In same April, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development began the provision of food rations to vulnerable households in the four states put under lockdown.”
He disclosed that the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) on its part, proactively pledged to pump NGN1.1 trillion into critical sectors of the economy.
“The Federal Government commenced a three-month repayment moratorium on all TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni loans. This makes eminent sense.
“These beneficiaries could not have been in good positions to repay the interest-free loans they collected when the economy was being shut down and the streets were empty.“
Ogbeni Aregbesola stated that as a result of government’s stimulus package, 1.3 million jobs were saved, while close to one million new jobs were created through the Economic Sustainability Plan anchored by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on behalf of the Federal Government.
Categories: James Ibechi