Coronavirus: We can’t share money donated as palliatives – Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it cannot use funds donated by the private sector towards fighting coronavirus to provide palliatives during the lockdown.

Speaking on Tuesday on a Radio Nigeria programme, “Politics Nationwide”, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus was neither with the money nor in control of it, and could not share a penny from the fund to anyone.

“The private sector donors are not giving any cash to the Federal Government and they have made this clear to the people.

“They said they will support the fight against the pandemic by asking government where they want healthcare infrastructure to be provided.

“What government has done is to request them to build a 30-bed isolation ward and a 10-bed Intensive Care Unit in each state in the country.

“In addition, the Federal Government has given them a list of equipment and commodities that will also be needed.

“Therefore, the issue of using their donations to provide palliative cannot arise,” he said.

Mohammed further said that in addressing the issue of palliative, every country adopted peculiar strategy that was workable and acceptable.

He said that Nigeria remains the best in the whole of Africa in the area of provision of palliative to citizens as the world battles the scourge.

Some of the palliatives he listed include food distribution, cash transfers and waivers for loans repayment.

He explained that on March 18, the price of petrol was reduced from N145 per litre to N125 per litre, with that reduction going further down to N123.50 per litre.

The minister added that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans as well as Federal Government-funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

He said that interest rates for intervention fund had been slashed from nine to five per cent, while the CBN put aside N50 billion fund to help SMEs.

Mohammed said that to cushion effect of the lockdown, satellite towns around Lagos and Abuja were being given relief materials while the vulnerable and those in IDP camps are being taken care of.

He said that besides the two months payment of the Conditional Cash Transfer, the President ordered that the social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks.

The minister said the President had set up a ministerial committee to ensure the economy adapted to the new reality and another body to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 farming season.