By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, has disclosed that 360 members of the House of Representatives have resolved to donate their two months salary to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
The Speaker, in a video message to Nigerians said the two-month salary donation would be independent of the contributions by individual lawmakers to alleviate the hardship that their constituents face at this time of national emergency.
He said the salary donation from the lawmakers would be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund account.
Gbajabiamila said, “We have in the House of Representatives jointly committed to contributing one hundred per cent (100%) of our salaries for the next two months to the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria. Our contribution will support provisions for the welfare of frontline medical professionals and health workers, and other interventions to provide for the wellbeing of all Nigerians through these trying times.”
“Accordingly, I have directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to see to it that all members’ salaries are transferred to the National Relief Fund for this month and the next. This is independent of ongoing individual efforts by members to alleviate the suffering brought on by this virus and to improve the living conditions of citizens in their various constituencies.”
He assured that the House would exercise its oversight power to ensure faithful administration of all emergency funds and contributions made so far to ensure they serve the purpose for which they were intended.
“The House has already mandated the Committees on Health and Disaster Preparedness to diligently oversee the distribution of items donated by local and foreign donors to ensure proper management.”
Gbajabiamila also said the House has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make cash grants to the 774 local government areas in the country to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
The speaker while commending the sacrifices made by all medical professionals, implored Nigerians to adhere strictly to the guidelines given by relevant authorities to prevent further spread of the disease.
“Nigeria could not afford to have a large scale outbreak of the disease. This crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system. After this is over and moving forward, we must do everything in our power to ensure that we will never again come upon a moment such as this, as ill-equipped as we are now. The transmission of this disease at a scale for which our systems are not prepared is our biggest present threat. We alleviate that threat by self-isolating. The bad news of this disease is that everyone is a potential victim, but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.”
“Keep in mind that if we do not rigorously follow these self-isolation guidelines, all our other efforts will at the end of the day come to nothing. Let this be for all of us, a time for introspection and prayer, a time to commune with God. Let us spend time with our children. Study, write, meditate and exercise. Do whatever you must to get through this period but do it at home.”
“We are at war and our mission is first to survive, and then to overcome. These objectives require that we act in unison and remain laser-focused on the challenge at hand. I ask all of you to continue to take care of yourselves. Follow the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Do not disseminate information of uncertain provenance. Do not panic but make sure that those around you understand the risks of this disease and the challenges we face and must overcome together. If we do all that we are called to do at this time, it won’t be long now before we can with joy and thanksgiving together declare mission accomplished,” he said
Speaking further, Gbajabiamila urged the state governors that haven’t had any confirmed cases to proceed as if they have, by taking all precautions and making all the same preparations as in those states where there have been established cases.
“I commend the efforts of the Federal Government to manage the outbreak and alleviate its adverse economic and social impact on Nigerians. A lot of the responsibility for managing this outbreak, caring for those who become ill and catering to at-risk populations will fall to the State Governments. I applaud those State Governors who have risen to the challenge of the times with innovation and steady leadership, I encourage them to remain steadfast.”
“I also express profound appreciation to all the individuals and organisations who have stepped up to support federal and state governments efforts to manage the present crisis. Let it be that when we think of this moment and of the roles we have each played, our memories are filled with the remembrance of heroes and the names of those who in their lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with their honour,” he added.