Members of the House of Representatives have resolved to donate their two-month salary to the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.
Making the announcement in a video he shared on Facebook, Tuesday, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the donation would be independent of the contributions by individual lawmakers to alleviate the hardship that their constituents face at this time of national emergency.
The Speaker also stated that the lawmakers’ donation would be transferred directly to the National Relief Fund account for the fight against COVID-19.
Gbajabiamila stated: “We have in the House of Representatives jointly committed to contributing one hundred per cent (100%) of our salaries for the next two months to the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“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.
“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.”
Assuring that the House would exercise its oversight power to ensure that emergency funds and contributions made so far serve the purpose for which they were intended, Gbajabiamila stressed that the House has 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.
Also, as part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of the masses, the Speaker revealed that the House has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to make cash grants to the 774 local government areas in the country.
“The House also calls on 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 seven hundred and seventy-four (774) Local Government Area administrations in the country to provide food and other essentials to at-risk individuals and communities.”
Gbajabiamila, while saying that Nigeria could not afford to have a large scale outbreak of the disease, implored Nigerians to adhere strictly to the guidelines given by relevant authorities to prevent further spread of the pandemic.
“This crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system. 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 transmission of this disease at a scale for which our systems are not prepared is our biggest present threat. We alleviate that threat by self-isolating. The bad news of this disease is that everyone is a potential victim, but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.
“Keep in mind that if we do not rigorously follow these self-isolation guidelines, all our other efforts will at the end of the day come to nothing. Let this be for all of us, a time for introspection and prayer, a time to commune with God. Let us spend time with our children. Study, write, meditate and exercise. Do whatever you must to get through this period but do it at home.
“We are at war and our 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. I ask all of you to continue to take care of yourselves. Follow the guidelines of the Nigeria 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 now before we can with joy and thanksgiving together declare mission accomplished.”
The Speaker, meanwhile, applauded the sacrifices made by all the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for their dedication and striving hard to rid the country of the pandemic.”
He added: “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.”