Leadership of the National Assembly, Wednesday, tasked President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government of Nigeria to provide free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months as part of palliative stimulus for cushioning the effects of lockdown being applied against the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
It also called for fairness and equity in the distribution of palliatives across the country.
The calls were made at the Senate wing of the National Assembly by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, during a consultative meeting with the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and other key drivers of the Nigerian economy.
Specifically, Speaker Gbajabiamila in his remarks at the meeting said, “In providing stimulus; the federal government can reach more people and households by paying for their electricity tariffs for the next two months.
“Free electricity will come as a great relief to many citizens during the period of lockdown, the way it is being done in one of our neighbouring countries, Ghana specifically.”
The Senate President in his own remarks, said all parts of the country should be considered in the intervention initiatives of the federal government.
“We must ensure that there is equity. That there is fairness in the interventions. Every part of this country should have something to ameliorate the situation whether it is Coronavirus infected or not.
“In fact, some of our states have been in a very difficult situation before the outbreak of coronavirus and such interventions will definitely help,” he said.
He tasked the relevant agencies of government to ensure that they streamline their activities along the provisions in the 2020 budget and to avoid needless duplication of projects.
“In our stimulus package, we need to ensure provisions that will streamline with what is already in the 2020 budget so that we don’t do duplication.
“In our last meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning indicated very clearly that the Executive is proposing a N500 billion stimulus package.
“While this is a very good proposal, how we wish you could even have more than N500 billion, but my belief is that we don’t duplicate what is already in the 2020 budget.
“And of course, there is utmost need to streamline what the Federal Ministry of Finance is proposing and what the CBN is also proposing because some of the proposals may have a spill over effect on some projects.
“So there is the need for the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN to have their intervention streamlined in such a manner that what someone loses under the stimulus package of the Federal Ministry of Finance, he gains in the stimulus package of the CBN.
“We must ensure that these Interventions have very clear and definite measurable targets. We shouldn’t just throw money out there and then we don’t see anything because the National Assembly will ensure that it monitors every single Kobo if and when the proposal is endorsed,” he said.
The Finance minister in her own submission said the meeting was designed to be a consultative forum to bring the National Assembly leadership up to date on what and what, the federal government is doing in addressing effects of COVID 19 on the economy.
“We are here to keep the leadership of the National Assembly updated on what we have been doing and also to take your feedback, your guidance and advice as we move forward towards adjusting the MTEF, adjusting the budget as well as designing the N500 billion stimulus package.”