By Lateef Ibrahim
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute an Eminent Nigerians Group to manage donations from the private sector and palliatives from the federal government.
This, the PDP reasoned, will help to ensure that such interventions reached the desired persons in the overall effort to check the health and economic impact of COVID-19 in our country.
The party made the call in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja.
The leading opposition party said the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 should immediately hands off the management of palliatives so as to eliminate corruption as well as political and bureaucratic bottlenecks that would impede effective administration of the social panaceas to vulnerable Nigerians.
The PDP also asked the Federal Government to halt plans by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to ensure that there is no increase in electricity tariff as Nigerians are going through excruciating pains and cannot carry the burden of further increase in costs.
The party expressed concerns that the Federal Government has so far failed to reach vulnerable Nigerians in the informal sector, including cab driver, keke and okada operators, artisans, labourers, market women, traders, food sellers, fruit vendors, farmers and dealers of perishable goods, motor mechanics, among others, whose survival directly depends on daily income in the markets, shops and streets, which has been crippled by lockdowns occasioned by the COVID-19.
According to the statement, “Our party is deeply worried about the cries of hungry children whose parents can no longer go out to provide for their families at this critical time.
“The PDP therefore holds that the situation at hand requires an urgent involvement of all Nigerians irrespective of political, ethnic or religious persuasion.
“It is a time we must bring in eminent Nigerians from the private sector to assist in developing and implementing operable target-specific strategies to reach the vulnerable Nigerians across all informal sectors of our economy.
“The party calls for special interventions for farmers as well as Nigerians involved in the production, distribution and marketing of perishable consumer items by undertaking emergency bulk purchase, storage initiatives as well as waivers on loans so as to check waste and buoy production.
“We also urge for strategic intervention for distressed Nigerians such as cab drivers, keke operators, traders and other small-scale entrepreneurs, who took bank loans for their enterprises, but have been grounded by COVID-19 pandemic”, it said.
The PDP further demanded that the Federal Government should adopt strategies to cut interest rates on such loans by micro finance and commercial banks in the country.
Continuing, it said, “In the same vein, our party pleads with landlords, particularly those of residential apartments, to bear with their low income group tenants, whose businesses have been crippled at this critical time.
“Moreover, the PDP restates its call on President Buhari to reduce the cost of fuel from N125 to the appropriate pump price of between N80 and N90 per liter to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians during this time.
“Our party charges President Buhari to allow for a concerted effort that looks at the nation as a whole and channel interventions to all the states, local government and wards, using community based system that would ensure that such interventions reach our compatriots at the grassroot level.
“President should also as a matter of urgency announce government financial interventions for other states, as he did for Lagos state, as well as support practical measures to get economic panaceas to all Nigerians.
“Our party, once again, commends the contributions and sacrifices of philanthropic individuals and groups as well as health workers while expressing optimism that our nation will defeat the coronavirus with the concerted effort of all”, it said.