Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday evening expressed concern that the two isolation centres meant for the treatment of Coronavirus patients in the Federal Capital Territory were yet to be ready.
Lawan, also frowned at the non release by the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, of N620 million earlier approved by the federal government for the emergency response to Coronavirus (COVID -19) outbreak.
The Senate President, who spoke after inspecting facilities at the two isolation centres at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, stated that the isolation centres were far from being ready going by what he saw.
He stressed that “from our inspection here, the temporary isolation centre is really not in good shape, it doesn’t look ready to receive any patient, and I believe that this is something that we need to fix between now and tomorrow.
“We are in an emergency, even if we don’t have people who are affected, we shouldn’t just rest on our oars. We have to do everything and anything possible to fix that temporary isolation centre to be prepared to receive anyone who falls sick in this respect”.
Lawan further lamented that Nigeria, despite being a country with the largest economy in Africa, is yet to have a completed Isolation Centre in any of the geo-political zones that would provide emergency response to disease outbreak in the country.
He charged those saddled with leadership responsibilities in the country to live up to expectations through timely discharge of their mandates and duties.
His words: “There’s no way that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of two hundred million, and yet the Federal Capital and six surrounding states of the North Central, you don’t have one room that you can call an isolation centre, where anyone who unfortunately falls into this crisis will be taken to. This is not acceptable.
“I also believe that we should have a replication of the permanent site, we should be able to complete this and then have five others across the remaining geo-political zones of the country.
“The contractor said by the end of this month this should be ready, we pray it should be faster, but by the end of tomorrow, that temporary site must be ready.
“There’s no generator, no electricity, nothing. There were two or three air conditioners brought this morning, maybe because yesterday we said we were coming here. This is not acceptable”.
He assured Nigerians that the relevant committees of the Senate will carry out a follow-up on Thursday to ensure that work on the isolation centres begins and is completed.
“The Senate Committee on Health will come back tomorrow (Thursday), we want to see that temporary isolation centre fixed. We need to be committed, we need to be very serious, and this is the essence of our oversight, but because it is very important, we decided that the leadership of the Senate should lead this oversight,” Lawan said.
Lawan also asked the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to immediately release the sum of N620m to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), an amount budgeted for emergency response to the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) outbreak.
“I am sad, we are indeed actually sad, that of the N620 million that was supposed to be released to this place for fixing of everything here to NCDC, not a kobo has been released. “We are going to get across to the Minister of Finance and all the other authorities that have anything to do with this to release this money latest between today and tomorrow. So, we are going to ensure that the money is released, we are not going to put pressure. This is what they are supposed to do, and they must do it.
“As leaders given responsibilities, we have to do what is right. This is unfortunate. So, the Ministry of Finance should release the N620 million between today and tomorrow,” Lawal said.