Don’t Kill Nigeria economy with COVID-19, Senate warns

The upper chamber of the National Assembly in a meeting with stakeholders in the Aviation and Health sectors on Tuesday, warned against killing the nation’s economy with the adopting of European style of fighting COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate Committees On Aviation and Health gave this warning during interactive session with the stakeholders on safety measures put on ground in the wake of commencement of International and domestic flights in the country.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), in his remarks at the interactive session, said though based on realities on ground, COVID-19 is real but not potent in Nigeria and many of the African countries.

He said based on reality, it is wrong to accept the full measures adopted to fight CODVID-19 in Europe, America, China among others.

He said: “There is something in us as Africans that is not in them in Europe and America, which made COVID-19 not to be disastrous here as it was there.”

“In the light of this, measures that are detrimental to the livelihood and well-being of Nigerians should be avoided, so as not to kill the Nation’s economy.”

He specifically faulted the policy adopted by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 which allows only private laboratories to carry out tests on intending Travellers abroad.

He noted that the measure is detrimental to average Nigerians who are being forced to cough out N75, 000 for such tests.

“The amount is too high, it should be brought down and public health Institutions laboratories should be equipped to carry out the tests.”

“People are not finding things easy outside there as a result of way and manner COVID-19 pandemic is being fought in the country and as Representatives of the people, feelers reaching us, indicate revolt against government in December if drastic actions are not taken between now and then, to make things easier”, he warned.

On her part, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South), took up both the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu on the usefulness of face masks in Nigeria based on realities on ground.

She said: “When I visited some communities in Ekiti State last week, nobody put on the face masks and in fact, some of them told me who put it on, not to bring COVID 19 to them.”

“These are clear signs that methods and approaches being used to fight the pandemic should be reassessed and changed since the pandemic for reasons yet to be scientifically established, is far less potent here than it is, in Europe, America etc.”

Responding, the National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, admitted that poverty is one of the strongest weapons against the pandemic.

He said the three reasons already identified are Poverty, Demography and aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic.

He said that though the factor of poverty as part of the success story against COVID-19 in Nigeria is controversial, but it is generally believed that the pandemic gets weakened in crowded and stuffy areas.

Aliyu said: “Demographically, only 3% of Nigerians are above the age 65 as against 20%, 18% etc, of such populations in European and American countries where death casualties were high.”

“Aggressive nature of African countries against the pandemic also helped tremendously in containing the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria and many of the African countries”.

The joint committee, however ordered the Minister and the PTF National Coordinator, to enlarge the scope of laboratory testing for the pandemic by including the public ones and ensure reduction in the cost of testing.

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