Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against adopting policies that could worsen the economy in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
In an exclusive interview with THISDAY, the chairman of the main opposition party urged the president to consider the health of the economy and the plight of the vulnerable in his decisions.
Secondus added that since the actions of the federal government is to contain the spread of the pandemic, it is necessary to do so with the “milk of human kindness by not preventing one virus and creating another deadlier one that is hunger.”
“The Nigerian economy – apart from on oil, is majorly dependent on the entrepreneurial skills of the artisans, the traders, the bricklayers, the market men and women and other small and medium scale business people.
“The continued stay at home of these set of people does not help the already imperiled economy, where our major foreign income earning measure has fallen to the worst state in the last 20 years. We should not use policies that could worsen the economy. Crime and criminality is on the rise now in the country,” he stated.
Secondus asked the federal government to also take into cognisance the plight of pensioners and the vulnerable in the country.
He said: “There are those that have served this country meritoriously. What palliative measures have been put in place for this set of people? Has the distribution of the palliatives taken care of these set of people? What of the artisans that depend on their daily sales to feed themselves and their families?
“Before this virus, these set of people depended on the proceeds of their daily sales to feed their families. Now that there is restricted movement, what do we expect them to use and feed their families?”
Secondus urged the federal government to heed the advice of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and ensure a partial restriction of movement and allow people to engage in their daily chores.
“The economy is gradually being heated and this is dangerous for all. This is the time to be wise. Everything is not jackboot politics,” he added.
According to him, restriction of movement has contributed to an increase in the level of crimes everywhere, adding that bottled anger before the pandemic should not be allowed to cause more damage to the economy.
He called for the inclusion of the state governments in the distribution of palliatives, saying that “the states are a tier of government and therefore should be considered in distributing the palliative by ensuring that everyone gets a piece of the action.”
Secondus said there should be a decentralised method of testing for the pandemic by giving more facilities to the states rather than concentrating the testing on the federal government and its agencies like the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).