President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to ensure prompt payment of workers’ salaries in order to cushion the hardship that came with the ongoing lockdown across the federation was one burning issue at the Presidency last week.
The ministry was also ordered to ensure the protection of critical infrastructures like roads and rails, as well as seek inputs locally to strengthen the nation’s economy.
Buhari’s directive was made public by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Chairman of the Presidential panel to review the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja, after intimating him on the latest developments relating to the pandemic.
Ahmed noted that “The consequences of the lockdown are the additional slowing down of the economy and the measures that we need to take to mitigate results on trade and businesses.” The lockdown, as issued by the government, became imperative in order to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus nationwide.
Though the President’s directive to ensure prompt payment of workers’ salaries is a commendable one, it sounded as if it is a big favour to pay workers for the services they have rendered. The government is under obligation to pay workers as at when due.
In different quarters, the directive sheds light on the yawning gap that needs to be filled in the administration of workers’ welfare in the country. Indeed, it is confusing to decipher how paying workers their due pay transforms to something that would serve as a measure to cushion the hardship brought by the lockdown.
Nonetheless, in the face of the current dwindling price of oil in the international market, the President and handlers of the economy should border about sustainability in paying workers. Seeking out other means of generating income should occupy Mr President’s mind.
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When common sense prevails
In what was seen as an unexpected move, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, approved the relaxation of the total lockdown he imposed on the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Ogun and Lagos States.
The President, in a national broadcast, on March 29, issued a 14-day total lockdown directive which began in Lagos and Abuja at 11pm on March 30. The move was borne out of the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus as Lagos and Abuja had become epicenters of the pandemic in Nigeria.
Following the cries of hardship faced by the people due to the stay-at-home order, the President succumbed to superior arguments and reviewed the lockdown measures.
In the new guidelines which was revealed by the National Coordinator for the fight against coronavirus, Dr. Sani Aliyu, during a press conference by the Presidential Task Force on coronavirus, it was stated that markets selling food items would open from 10am to 2pm while supermarkets and pharmacies would open from 10am to 4pm.
Aliyu, however, noted that a mass gathering of more than 20 people would not be allowed at any shop. The President exempted health personnel, journalists, workers of telecommunication and power companies from the stay-at-home order.
It must be admitted that Buhari exhibited rare humility in approving some adjustments in the lockdown protocols he rolled out initially. Given his much talked about stubborn traits, it was relieving to see him order a policy review without the traditional shove by citizens frustrated by government inertia and devil-may-care attitude.
Buhari’s concessions, as minor as they may seem, helped bring some temporary succor to a populace bogged down by indices of being adjudged the world poverty capital. That these measures have been regarded as palliatives remain arguable.
Now that Buhari’s daughter is back from self-isolation
President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter reunited with her family after completing a 14-day self-isolation period, having returned from the United Kingdom. This was one cheery news that came from the Presidency in the past week. It could be recalled that the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on March 19, announced that her daughter had embarked on self-isolation after her return to the country.
The media and publicity assistant to the First Lady, Aliyu Abdullahi, in a statement said the President’s daughter had rejoined her family in good health.
“I am happy to inform you that the young lady in question, Mr President’s daughter, has successfully completed her isolation period of 14 days and she’s normal, very healthy and well. She had since this afternoon rejoined her family; the mother, her Excellency First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari, personally received her.
“The lesson here for Nigerians and other parents to learn is that this is a child with all the privileges one can ever think of having in the country but the parents and the daughter insisted on following the NCDC protocol,” he stated.
No doubt, embarking on self-isolation was a lofty move by the President’s daughter. If other privileged few who returned from countries with high cases of the pandemic had towed this line, perhaps, we would not have the number of cases we have today.
This is why the President’s Chief-of-Staff, Abba Kyari, has been the subject of fiery public criticism, having failed to thread the path of caution and ending up testing positive for coronavirus.
Perhaps, if he had embarked on self-isolation after returning from Europe, like the President’s daughter, his three aides– whom he allegedly infected with the virus – would not have contracted it.
That said, it is a befitting end to know that the President’s daughter did not manifest any COVID-19 signs to warrant any further examinations.
By John Chukwu…