By Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has tasked the federal government on the need for it to evolve a realistic agenda towards tackling the long term effect of Coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s economy.
Ekweremadu, who made the appeal at the weekend while distributing palliatives to cushion the effect of COVID-19 to his constituents in Enugu West senatorial district, emphasised the need for Nigeria to marshal out realistic plans to deal with the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
He backed up his submission to the fact that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that Nigeria would suffer its worst recession in 30 years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ekweremadu, who was represented on the occasion by his political associate and Secretary of the Enugu State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Cletus Akalusi, however, disclosed that “as a member of the seven-man International Parliamentary Taskforce on COVID-19, I have been holding useful virtual meetings with my colleagues around the world with the aim of mitigating the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable citizens in developing nations, and countries with low capacity to deal with the pandemic and its effects”.
The global Task Force, he added, will continue to share perspectives with a view to mobilising ideas and global resources to deal with the pandemic among the nations in the world.
The Chairman of the Senate committee on Environment equally appreciated Nigerian health workers, whom he said were at the frontline of the battle against the novel coronavirus and called on African, particularly Nigerian scientists, to join the race for the cure and vaccine for COVID-19.
While expressing optimism that Nigeria and the world would ultimately overcome the threat posed by the pandemic, Ekweremadu commended all levels of government as well as the international community, corporate Nigeria, and kindhearted individuals for their efforts to end the pandemic and mitigate the challenges occasioned by it.
He singled out for commendation the five South East governors for their proactive measures, which he said kept the COVID-19 figures in the geo-political zone low.
His words: “I commend the Governors of the South East for the proactive measures taken by them. I believe this accounts for the comparatively low cases in the region. I commend in a special way the Government of Enugu State for the successful management and discharge of the two COVID-19 index cases”.
The legislator, however, urged the states not to relent saying “we must not let down our guards, we must consolidate on this advantage of minimal cases by continuously staying safe and building capacities in the areas of medical infrastructure, equipment, personnel, and food security to prepare ourselves for the days ahead”.
Ekweremadu also called on Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers, and urged the Federal Government to increase its social interventions to lessen the burden of hardship on Nigerians.
According to him, “I wish I could reach out to everyone that needs help at this time, but I shall continue to do my best. I call on our people to continue to complement governments’ efforts in cushioning the hardship occasioned by the pandemic on the less privileged citizens.
“As Chairman of the South East Senate Caucus, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the South East gets its fair and equitable share of every intervention by the Federal Government in addition to our modest individual initiatives to help our constituents in these trying times.
“I call on the Presidency to consider increasing the number of beneficiaries as well as the amount given to individual beneficiaries in the Conditional Cash Transfer programme in order to impact a more significant number of indigent Nigerians”, the legislator stated.