COVID-19: HURIWA tasks federal, state governments on social safety nets for the poor, elderly

Posted by News Express | 27 March 2020 | 874 times

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A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on the Federal Government and the Governors of the 36 states of the federation and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory to roll out concrete and sustainable economic growth and stimulus package for small and medium scale entrepreneurs to mitigate the effects of the prolonged shut down of economic activities following the sudden spike in the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

HURIWA said if nothing by way of social welfare reliefs for the poor and elderly are provided immediately for the over 90 million absolutely poor Nigerians, it will mean that the current administration is simply sending the poor population to stay at home and die even before a handle or a cure for the Coronavirus pandemic is found in the coming days.

“We condemn the lackadaisical attitudes of state governors to combat the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and their failure to make life meaningful for their citizens who are expected to stay at home for a long period of time pending the finding of solution to the health emergency currently ravaging Nigeria just like most parts of the world.”

Similarly, HURIWA has charged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to also introduce and pay at least N25,000 per month to all indigent families and the elderly to enable the verifiable beneficiaries to buy and stock essential foodstuffs and other pharmaceutical products such as hand sanitizers; hand gloves and face masks since they have been asked by the government to stay at home for an undetermined period of time pending the end of the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

HURIWA argued that by law the poor people of Nigeria are to be cared for by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the governments of the 36 states of the federation and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory under the social safety nets provided for in section 16 of the Nigerian constitution.

The rights group also affirmed that “Social safety nets evidentially have played significant roles to augment the sustenance of the very poorest of the poor and help the people to escape extreme poverty. In these times of emergencies such as the Coronavirus, the Nigerian government must activate effective social safety nets for the benefits of actual population of the poor who have lost their means of livelihoods following the sudden shut down of economic activities following the sudden rise in the spread of the disease of Coronavirus.

“As part of the stimulus package the Nigerian Government should pay to poor households specific sums not less than N25,000 per month pending the end of Coronavirus pandemic. The state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory are by law supposed to have rolled out series of social safety nets and cash allowances for the poorest of the poor even as the process of distributing these resources and relief materials must be transparent and accountable.”

HURIWA has also condemned as outrageous and illegal the reneging of the agreement by the Adamawa State Government to pay the state civil servants the N30,000 new national minimum wage just as it said that state governments ought to have savings and buffers from where any responsible state administration can fall back to meet up or augment emerging financial demands that are occasioned by either medical or health emergencies like the ongoing health challenge in the country even as it wondered why the Adamawa State Governor is willfully and wantonly breaching an extant law on wages hiding under the guise of fighting Coronavirus.

“We expect that at this time, the Federal and State Government appointees should take 75percent pay cuts so the proceeds from these savings can be used to combat the Coronavirus pandemic in country and the payment of wages to the civil servants who are on the employment roll call of the Federal Government and the states.”

HURIWA recalled that the Adamawa State Government has reportedly suspended its plan to begin the payment of consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage, agreed upon with Joint Trade Unions starting this March just as the government said that due to the impact of the coronavirus-imposed economic crunch on its finances, it would have to put on hold to the payment of consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage until the Covid-19 impact subsides.

Source: News Express

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