By James Emejo
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo Thursday appealed to commercial banks and other financial institutions to assist the government’s efforts in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among Nigerians by opening up all their branches to customers.
He made the appeal against the backdrop of alleged violation of new guidelines including social distancing, wearing of face masks at public places among others, which was set up by the government as part of measures to check the spread of the virus.
There had been recent evidence that social distancing and strict use of face masks were jettisoned as customers trooped to banking premises to access financial services following the partial easing of the lockdown.
Most banks limited their operations to a few branches after the lockdown.
Speaking at the weekly briefing of the Emergency Operation Centre of the Committee on Sustainable Production and Delivery of Essential Commodities During COVID-19, the minister said the troubling situation could have been avoided if the banks open up all their branches for operation.
He said until banks and other financial institutions opened up all their branches, the horrible scenes observed around banks’ premises could pose severe danger of infection of COVID-19 as well as compromise measures to tackle the spread.
Adebayo, however, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of security agencies in carrying out their duties by ensuring that President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a “free-flow and unhindered movement of foods, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other essential commodities across the country” was complied with.
He also commended Buhari for appointing his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo who is the supervisor of the Emergency Operation Centre as the Leader of the presidential delegation to tackle COVID-19 in Kano State.
The president had during his nationwide broadcast to ease the five-week lockdown, appealed to all Nigerians to “continue to adhere strictly to the advisories published by the presidential task force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control which include regular hand washing, strict mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public, maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene, avoidance of non-essential movement and travels and avoidance of large gatherings, restrictions on social and religious gatherings”.