Governors Endorse Suspension Of Public Gatherings In Nigeria

In what reflects a continuous and consistent confrontation of COVID-19 in Nigeria, State governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC) have set up a Special Committee to coordinate Federal and State governments’ responses to deal with the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Committee which started deliberations immediately after the NEC meeting on Thursday is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with the Governors of Jigawa, Edo, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kebbi and Ogun States as members.

The establishment of the Special Committee mandated to coordinate the responses of the Federal Government and States especially as it relates to the socio-economic implications of the pandemic on Nigerians, was the major outcome of the Council meeting which featured several presentations on COVID-19 ranging from the economic to the financial and public health dimensions of the matter.

NEC also strongly recommended that public gatherings should be discouraged and the maximum numbers in any large gathering should be worked out by respective State governments, including schools, social gatherings, and worship centres.

Briefing NEC on COVID-19 and Nigeria’s response, the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora and the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, noted that as at March 17, 2020, 152 countries are confirmed with coronavirus.

The presentation disclosed that in Nigeria there were 53 persons tested, 12 confirmed cases, zero deaths, 1 case discharged, and 3 states with confirmed cases were Lagos, Ogun, and Ekiti States, while the type of transmission showed six cases imported from Italy, United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Ehanire who led the presentation said the strategic objective of the response includes early detection, confirmed cases and contact tracing, developing and maintaining the capacity to effectively manage cases, coordination and communication with Nigerians, noting that about 80% of people recovered from the disease without the need for special treatment.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha who heads the Presidential Task Force also briefed Council on steps already taken by Federal Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

At the Council meeting, the following presentations on COVID-19 were made:

i.    Briefing on COVID-19 pandemic and Control Measures by the Minister of Health

ii.    Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian Economy by the Chairman Economic Advisory Council

iii.    Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian Economy: What is being done, by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

iv.    Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian petroleum revenues: What is being done, by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

v.    Managing the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on monetary policy by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Also giving an update on the effect of COVID-19 on the oil and gas sector, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, said the pandemic has impacted negatively on crude oil production and consumption and is further complicated by the quantity of the crude oil available before the pandemic came in, stressing that this has led to a sharp decline in the price of crude oil to about $22 pb as today.

He said, “The price of production now is higher than the selling price of oil, making it very difficult for oil producing companies and nations.”

He, however, noted that it is not a hopeless situation for Nigeria as measures are being taken to curtail the negative impact it may bring such as reducing the cost and increasing the production “even though budget level for crude oil is $57pb and when the reality of $30pb comes to play, we will still fulfill our obligation to FAAC.”

The NNPC boss also noted that the drop in the crude oil price has significant impact on the price of petroleum products and as a result of that change the price of petroleum products particularly PMS has been brought down to N125 on Wednesday and all NNPC service stations have been directed to comply.

NEC also got an update on the balances of the Excess Crude, Stabilization, and the Natural Resources Development Fund, accounts.

The Excess Crude stood at $72, 220,756.74 as at 17th March 2020, while the Stabilization account was put at N35, 806,389,699.67 during the same period. Natural Resources Development Fund account stood at N109, 360,903,475.60 during the period under review.

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