By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan has warned the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19 to be careful with the distribution of billions of naira donated by public spirited Nigerians and corporate bodies to fight the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.
Lawan asked the task force to have a better coordination of the donations received from well meaning individuals, corporate bodies and Institutions and to avoid duplications or the relevant bodies working at cross purposes.
The Senate President gave the warning at a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and members of the Task Force on COVID-19 led by its chairman, Boss Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
The meeting was attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, principal officers and members of the relevant Senate and House Committees.
Lawan explained that the essence and focus of the meeting was for the leaders of the National Assembly to engage with the PTF in order to understand clearly what the Task Force has been doing.
“But let me also say that this is a partnership. As you work from that side of government, we are to work with you from this side.
“It will take the two arms, particularly the Executive and Legislature, to implement the kind of efforts to manage and control the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
“Let me commend those who have made donations for the government to have the resources to address this situation and also those who have been praying in our mosques, in our Churches for the Intervention of the Almighty God,” Lawan said.
The Senate President offered some advice to the Task Force which job is primarily to coordinate the efforts of the Federal Government in containing the pandemic.
“I believe that there are certain things that we need to do and this is the right forum to air my views about them.
“First of all, you are supposed to be the custodian of all the challenges that we face as far as COVID-19 is concerned.
” If any state has a challenge, I am sure there is a proper structure and route for reporting, so that you take down the situation and take the necessary steps.
“So I want to appeal to all Nigerians across the states that this is where we should report our cases to until such a time when other avenues will be clearly stipulated.
“I also believe that you will know better what we need, where, as far as COVID-19 challenge is concerned and therefore, you will be the one to put the request for the Intervention by the Federal Government.
“I believe that we face one critical challenge today in our fight against COVID-19.
“We have donations made by various organisations, corporate bodies and so on but it is my candid opinion that there is no coordination.
“The Corporate Nigeria, as I was told as at yesterday (Wednesday), has gathered N22 billion, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), I was told had 28 million dollar, CBN and the banks, I don’t know how much they have.
“The National Assembly, the ministers and so many individuals and Institutions have also made donations,” Lawan said.
In his remarks, the PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha said for transparency and accountability, the Task Force would not be directly involved in the collection and disbursement of the cash donations for COVID-19.
“The Accountant General of the Federation has already published the account details for collection through some commercial banks and also provided the modalities for it’s utilisation.
“All the main COVID-19 accounts shall be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“However, all non-cash donations shall be duly received by the PTF, acknowledged, documented and appropriately deployed,” the PTF chairman said.
Lawan Cautions Buhari’s Task Force on sharing of COVID-19 Biilions of Naira Donations
By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.