Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wants the Nigerian government to distribute N10,000 (about $25) to about 30 million Nigerian households as a way of reducing the burdens which coronavirus has brought to the good people of Nigeria: “At an approximate 30 million households or thereabouts, the government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind”. Notice that the former VP does not know how many households as he used “approximate” and “thereabouts”; that is the first sign of trouble on this proposal.
The second problem is the money; N300 billion is a lot of money in Nigeria now. But assume a miracle happens and President Buhari receives a credit alert on behalf of Nigeria, the biggest hurdle would be how to distribute it. Where do you start? The United States which must have inspired Mr Abubakar has accurate data of Americans through the social security administration and tax system. Nigeria has none.
This proposal is a tough one and I do not see how it could work.I understand that the government has been sending stipends to some citizens. But do not bank on it; the initiative was mainly to mobilize citizens for elections. If you are keeping records, the initiative has scaled back since we completed the elections.
Anyone that tells you that the government has the capacity to send one naira to Nigerian households, effectively, examine him or her for malaria symptoms. We do not know how many households in Nigeria. We do not know where they are. We do not know who can receive the money on behalf of the households before you start family mini-wars. We do not know what we can’t know, making this proposal largely “the more you look, the less you see”.
Read his full statement
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, I applaud the various Nigerian state governments who have proactively taken measures, such as issuing stay at home orders, and shutting down non-essential markets and other places of mass gatherings, while also giving guidelines for social distancing.
However, we must accept the fact that much of the Nigerian public have a subsistence existence. A large percentage of our people do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation and even lockdown.
It is, therefore, incumbent on the Federal and state governments to provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them to survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their safety.
It is thus time for the National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that will cater for all Nigerian citizens.
I also call on all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that the government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance. I also urge these telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ?1500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service, as the case may be.
I commend all individuals and corporate organisations who have one way or the other provided some form of relief for the Nigerian people. In essence, this is what makes Nigeria great, when we help each other at such crisis times as this, irrespective of any differences. I further call on more corporations and individuals with capacity, to assist the public in these trying times.
To this end, Priam Group pledges N50 million on my behalf as my humble contribution to a relief Fund that will form part of the stimulus package.---
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