House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday said while the government has tried to give many Nigerians relief packages, evidence shows that many Nigerians in need are yet to get any form of palliative.
Mr Gbajabiamila said it was, therefore, necessary to ensure that more people are covered to cushion the effect of the lockdown, amidst the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The House of Representatives resumed plenary Tuesday after five weeks of forced break, which it extended twice due to the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun as by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The government said 2.6 million households were initially captured in the nation’s social register, but this was reportedly upped to 3.6 million after the president’s second broadcast on April 17.
However, with over 90 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, there was strong backlash from those left out of the coverage. The aftermath of the backlash also pitched the legislators against the executive.
Mr Gbajabiamila said “acts of omission or commission in any such aggravations” pose threats to the nation’s survival during the pandemic.
He said that laxity on this front puts the country at the risk of transmission on a large scale.
“When the federal government interventions do not reach those that need,” he noted, “we are the first to receive complaints and have to explain to our constituents the reasons why they do not qualify or why they have been left out.”
“Our grassroots interactions provide knowledge and context that can be useful to ensure that the hardest-hit communities receive help.”
The speaker further said the House would work on a legislation to “codify the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) into a Bill that will be considered by the House at our next adjourned date.”
Also, Mr Gbajabiamila said the House has established a COVID-19 Strategic Response Team (CRST) with a mandate to develop interventions and reforms and to update the legislative agenda to reflect Nigeria’s post-COVID realities and priorities.
“The Strategic Response Team will be supported by a group of technical experts, private sector leaders and representatives. Their experience and expertise will ensure that the policy proposals presented to the House are rigorously grounded in a fact-based reality.”
Nigeria, as of Monday, had recorded 1337 COVID-19 cases, 40 deaths and 255 discharged patients.