President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to Nigerians to help alleviate the harsh effects of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
This was disclosed by the chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, while briefing journalists in Abuja Wednesday.
He said release of grains was part of plans to ensure some level of comfort for Nigerians across the country.
He said the first tranche of the grains would go to Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states.
“The President has approved the released 70,000 metric tons of grains from the National Strategic Reserve, for distribution to the poor, the vulnerable and those whose livelihoods will be affected by the lockdown.
“The first tranche of about 6,000 metric tons will go to Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, while the remaining will go to other frontline states in the fight against COVID-19.
“In the continuing effort to ensure very minimal disruption of upstream oil and gas exploration and operation in Nigeria, Mr President has approved limited operations exemptions for operating companies, services and logistics companies in the Nigerian upstream sector. They will ensure regular gas supplies to power turbines that supply domestic electricity,” he said.
On the level of compliance to the restriction order by the President, the SGF said the PTF was impressed by the reports received so far, noting though that there were still some reports indicating that security operatives were having challenges, especially in states where governors had introduced their own set of measures.
“We have received situation reports from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Inter-State traffic across the Country as at Tuesday, 31st March, 2020. Indications are that there was a reasonable level of compliance with the Presidential directive which has led to great reduction of traffic on major highways. We have however received reports of challenges arising from the enforcement of the Presidential directives by security agents generally and in States where Governors have also imposed their own measures.
“As we continue to dialogue to remove the bottlenecks, I am pleased to inform you that the PTF has developed an Implementation Guide and Protocols for the COVID-19 Lockdown Policy. This document will be widely circulated to all security agencies and will be discussed with sub-national entities for the purpose of building synergy in the fight against the virus.
“I assure you that these guidelines and protocols will be published in the national dailies and broadcast on the News networks.”
Meanwhile the committee announced that the Federal Government has approved four hours opening daily of the Food markets in the affected states,” he said.
Also speaking, National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu said retail food markets would be allowed to open from 10:00h to 14:00h daily.He said those that would benefit from the exemption are supermarkets and shops selling food and essential non-food items.
Others exempted are farms, distributors of food and perishable commodities, manufacturers of food, drugs, pharmaceuticals and essential products, among others.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said 70 percent of the over 5,000 contacts are being traced.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this while briefing journalists in Abuja, said the Ministry of Health was using the window of opportunity of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states to accelerate activities to detect, isolate and treat cases.
“This is important because our ability to achieve the objectives in these states, will largely define our success in slowing the spread of infection in our country.
“As the Federal and State governments deploy human and material resources to achieve this, a critical factor will be the cooperation of members of the public. I shall at this point remind everyone of the injunctions of His Excellency the President to all citizens to stay at home in the areas under lockdown. By doing this, you would have contributed a lot to the efforts of Government to quickly put coronavirus under control and return to our routine activities.
“As part of preparedness in the Abuja metropolis, we have 1,000 bed spaces ready for Isolation and treatment of mild to moderate cases, which we can expand if need arises. We have ICU units ready in Gwagwalada and National Hospital, for those who may have complications, especially those with underlying illnesses like tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, and also the Elderly. We again urge families to protect their Elderly and vulnerable people by not exposing them to unnecessary social hazards,” he said.