Reps donate 100% of two months salaries, Speaker laments weaknesses of health system


The Speaker of the House of representatives, right hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday announced that the House of Representatives is jointly committed to contributing 100% of their salaries for the next two months to the fight the Covid-19 in Nigeria. Gbajabiamila in a statement on Tuesday expalined: “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.”

The Speaker declared: “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.”

The Speaker acknowledged that no one living in Nigeria today has ever experienced a time such as this. Rt. Hon Gbajabiamila  lamented that, the coronavirus crisis “has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system; he assured: “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 House of Representatives commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria to manage the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria and alleviate the adverse economic and social impacts on all citizens. The Speaker, again, assured: “in every way we can, we will continue to support these efforts to ensure that our people make it through this difficult time with dignity and peace of mind.”

Gbajabiamila decried: “he transmission of this disease at a scale for which our systems are not prepared is our biggest present threat.” He, however, expressed optimism that, “We alleviate that threat by self-isolating;” adding: that the bad news of this disease is that everyone is a potential victim, but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.

The Speaker warned that if people do not rigorously follow the self-isolation guidelines, all other efforts will at the end come to nothing. He appealed that people should do whatever they can to get through this period and must do it at home.

Gbajabiamila remarked that a lot of the responsibility for managing the coronavirus outbreak, caring for those who become ill and catering to at-risk populations will fall on the State Governments. He applauded State Governors who have risen to the challenge of the times with innovation and steady leadership, “I encourage them to remain steadfast. I ask that Governors of states that haven’t had any confirmed cases proceed as if they have, taking all precautions and making all the same preparations as in those states where there have been established cases,” Gbajabiamila said.

The Speaker was of the view that when the dreadful disease ceases to exist in Nigeria, doctors and nurses, and myriad other medical professionals who give their best through long hours, providing comfort and treatment to heal the sick and mend the country, will be celebrated. “I thank you, your country thanks you. And I assure you that the House of Representatives will act to provide for you now in the heat of this battle against disease and death and after when we have won the battle and saved our land,” the Speaker stated.

The House also demanded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of its Policy Measures in Response to the Covid-19 Outbreak, to immediately direct cash grants to the 774 Local Government Area administrations in the country to provide food and other essentials to at-risk individuals and communities.

The Speaker, subsequently, expressed the sincere appreciation of the House to all the individuals and organisations who have stepped up to support Federal and State government efforts to manage the present crisis. “Where some have made financial commitments to support large scale testing, provide emergency care, fund cash and food grants to at-risk populations, others have set up health facilities to support government efforts. We are grateful for these noble acts of humanity and patriotism,” he declared.

He assured that the House of Representatives will exercise oversight authority to ensure faithful administration of all emergency funds and contributions, so they serve the purpose for which they were intended. “We have 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,” he said.

The Speaker appealed for cooperation of Nigerians, noting that Nigerians are at war and the 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,” he said. He asked everyone to continue to follow the guidelines of the National 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 before we can with joy and thanksgiving together declare MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” Gbajabiamila said.