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MESSAGE TO THE NATION BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REP. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA ON THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19 DISEASE IN NIGERIA

  1. None of us living in Nigeria today has ever experienced a time such as this. At this moment when our determination to succeed is surpassed only by our recognition of the dire consequences of falling short, we are hopeful that our best efforts will be enough. This crisis has exposed in the worst possible way the evident weaknesses of our health system. After this is over and moving forward, we must do everything in our power to ensure that we will never again come upon a moment such as this, as ill-equipped as we are now.
  2. The House of Representatives commends His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria to manage this outbreak in Nigeria and alleviate the adverse economic and social impact on all our citizens. In every way we can, we will continue to support these efforts to ensure that our people make it through this difficult time with dignity and peace of mind.
  3. The transmission of this disease at a scale for which our systems are not prepared is our biggest present threat. We alleviate that threat by self-isolating. The bad news of this disease is that everyone is a potential victim, but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution. Keep in mind that if we do not rigorously follow these self-isolation guidelines, all our other efforts will at the end of the day come to nothing. Let this be for all of us, a time for introspection and prayer, a time to commune with God. Let us spend time with our children. Study, write, meditate and exercise. Do whatever you must to get through this period but do it at home.
  4. A lot of the responsibility for managing this outbreak, caring for those who become ill and catering to at-risk populations will fall to the State Governments. I applaud those State Governors who have risen to the challenge of the times with innovation and steady leadership, I encourage them to remain steadfast. I ask that Governors of states that haven’t had any confirmed cases proceed as if they have, taking all precautions and making all the same preparations as in those states where there have been established cases.
  5. When one day we rejoice in the passing of this dreadful disease from our shores, we will do so because of doctors and nurses, and myriad other medical professionals who give their best through long hours, providing comfort and treatment to heal the sick and mend our country. I thank you, your country thanks you. And I assure you that the House of Representatives will act to provide for you now in the heat of this battle against disease and death and after when we have won the battle and saved our land.
  6. We have in the House of Representatives jointly committed to contributing one hundred percent (100%) of our salaries for the next two months to the fight against Covid-19 in Nigeria. Our contribution will support provisions for the welfare of frontline medical professionals and health workers, and other interventions to provide for the wellbeing of all Nigerians through these trying times. Accordingly, I have directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to see to it that all members’ salaries are transferred to the National Relief Fund for this month and the next. This is independent of ongoing individual efforts by members to alleviate the suffering brought on by this virus and to improve the living conditions of citizens in their various constituencies.
  7. The House also calls on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as part of its Policy Measures in Response to the Covid-19 Outbreak to immediately direct cash grants to the seven hundred and seventy-four (774) Local Government Area administrations in the country to provide food and other essentials to at-risk individuals and communities.
  8. Let me at this time express the sincere appreciation of the House to all the individuals and organisations who have stepped up to support Federal and State government efforts to manage the present crisis. Where some have made financial commitments to support large scale testing, provide emergency care, fund cash and food grants to at-risk populations, others have set up health facilities to support government efforts. We are grateful for these noble acts of humanity and patriotism.
  9. The House of Representatives will exercise our oversight authority to ensure faithful administration of all emergency funds and contributions, so they serve the purpose for which they were intended. We have already mandated the Committees on Health and Disaster Preparedness to diligently oversee the distribution of items donated by local and foreign donors to ensure proper management.
  10. Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war and our mission is first to survive, and then to overcome. These objectives require that we act in unison and remain laser-focused on the challenge at hand. I ask all of you to continue to take care of yourselves. Follow the guidelines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Do not disseminate information of uncertain provenance. Do not panic but make sure that those around you understand the risks of this disease and the challenges we face and must overcome together. If we do all that we are called to do at this time, it won’t be long now before we can with joy and thanksgiving together declare MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
  11. We will all remember these days long after now, and we will pass on those memories to our children and generations that will come after. What we will remember of these days will depend on the choices we make now. Let it be that when we think of this moment and of the roles we have each played, our memories are filled with the remembrance of heroes and the names of those who in their lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with their honour.
  12. May God bless and keep us all and God bless our Federal Republic.
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