Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute an Eminent Nigerians Group (ENG) to ensure that donations from the private sector and palliatives from the federal government reached the desired persons in the overall effort to mitigate the health and economic impact of COVID-19 in the country.
The party also called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to hands off the management of the palliatives in order to eliminate corruption as well as political and bureaucratic bottlenecks that would impede the effective administration of the social panaceas to vulnerable Nigerians.
The PDP in a statement that was issued yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, also asked the federal government to halt plans by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to increase electricity tariff because Nigerians are going through excruciating pains.
The party also expressed concern that the federal government has so far failed to reach vulnerable Nigerians in the informal sector whose sources of daily incomes have been crippled by the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These vulnerable Nigerians, according to the PDP, included cab driver, “keke” and “okada” operators, artisans, labourers, market women, traders, food sellers, fruit vendors, farmers and dealers of perishable goods, motor mechanics, among others, whose survival directly depends on daily income in the markets, shops and streets.
The PDP said: “Our party is deeply worried about the cries of hungry children whose parents can no longer go out to provide for their families at this critical time.”
It, therefore, warned that the situation at hand required urgent involvement of all Nigerians, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious persuasion.
“It is a time we must bring in eminent Nigerians from the private sector to assist in developing and implementing operable target-specific strategies to reach the vulnerable Nigerians across all informal sectors of our economy,” the party said.
It also called for special interventions for farmers as well as Nigerians involved in the production, distribution and marketing of perishable consumer items.
“We also urge for strategic intervention for distressed Nigerians such as cab drivers, ‘keke’ operators, traders and other small-scale entrepreneurs, who took bank loans for their enterprises, but have been grounded by COVID-19 pandemic,” it said. .
The PDP further demanded that the federal government should adopt strategies to cut interest rates on such loans by micro finance institutions and commercial banks in the country.
In the same vein, the PDP pleaded with landlords, particularly those of residential apartments, to bear with their low income group tenants, whose businesses have been crippled at this critical time.
The party also restated its call on President Buhari to reduce the cost of fuel from N125 to the appropriate pump price of between N80 and N90 per liter to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians during this time.
It charged President Buhari to allow for a concerted effort that looks at the nation as a whole and channel interventions to all the states, local governments and wards through community based system that would ensure that such interventions reached those at the grassroots level.
“Mr. President should also as a matter of urgency announce government financial interventions for other states as he did for Lagos State, as well as support practical measures to get economic panaceas to all Nigerians.
“Our party, once again, commends the contributions and sacrifices of philanthropic individuals and groups as well as health workers while expressing optimism that our nation will defeat the COVID-19 with the concerted effort of all,” the PDP stated. .