Covid-19: Huriwa Tasks President Buhari; Governors On Social Safety Nets;
The foremost 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 NIGERIA.
HURIWA said if nothing by way of CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC's social welfare reliefs for the poor and elderly are provided for immediatelly for the over 90 million absolutely Poor Nigerians, it will mean that the Current administration is simply sending the poor population to STAY AT THEIR HOMES 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 meanful for their citizens who are expected to stay at home for a lo g period of time pending the finding of solution to the healtj emerhency currently ravaging Nigeria just like most parts of rhe World.
Similarly, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has charged 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 santizer; hand gloves and face masks since they have been asked by Government to stay at home for an undetermined period of time pending the end of the spread of 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 and especially section 16, subsection 2 (B) which provides thus: "the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and DISTRIBUTED as best as possible to SERVE THE PUBLIC GOOD".
HURIWA also affirmed that the fuller import of section 14 (2) (b) which specifies that "THE SECURITY AND WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE SHALL BE THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT" means that it is the statutory OBLIGATION OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE SUCCOUR AND LEFE SAVING RELIEFS to the indigent and the elderly in the times of emergencies such as the widening spectre of CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.
"Social safery nets evidentially have played significant roles to augment the sustenance of the very poorest of the poor and helps people to escape extreme poverty. In these times of emergencies such as the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA as well as every part of the globe, the Nigerian governmemt 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 Nigeriam governmemt 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 the Rights group said 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 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA 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 the health emergency. "We expect that at this time all FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and State government appointees should take 75% pay cuts so the proceeds from these savings can be used to combat the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA and the paymemt of wages to the civil servants who are on the employmemt 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.
HURIWA recalled that this breach of an extant law of the federation was made known in a press release issued by the Director-General, Media and Communications to the Governor, Solomon Kumangar, and made available to newsmen who in the statement explained that it had become imperative that it took the step to enable government to continue to sustain basic public services.
HURIWA however faulted the Adamawa State governor or indeed any other head of any branch of government who will like to be clever by half by dodging under the guise of the impacts of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA to shortchange either the workforce or the citizens of such a state or Nigeria as a Whole because the role of officials of government is to be strategic in planning the administration of public fund and to scientifically formulate and implement measures or the best way to manage the resources of their states or Nigeria at all times.
The Rights group said virtually all governments across the World including state governments in all parts of the globe equally facing the consequences of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC have systematically worked out ECONOMIC BAIL OUT PACKAGE FOR ALL STRATA OF THEIR SOCIETY including businesses and citizens and the Rights group wondered why in Nigeria apart from the failure of the National governmemt to announce Social Safety nets and credible Economic recovery and bail out measures, some States are reneging on the payment of statutory salaries and wages to their staff and civil servants who are the engines of state administration even when the governors and a retinue of hangers on and thugs are swimming in opulence.
HURIWA also reminded the Nigerian central Government that in the United States of America the Senate on Wednesday approved a historic, $2 trillion stimulus package to provide a jolt to an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, capping days of intense negotiations that produced one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures Congress has ever considered.
HURIWA recalled that in the United States of America: "Key elements of the proposal are $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
The plan will deliver a massive infusion of financial aid into a struggling economy hard hit by job loss, with provisions to help impacted American workers and families as well as small businesses and major industries including airlines.
Under the plan, individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get direct payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 -- and an additional $500 per each child. The payment would scale down by income, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
In addition, the bill would provide a major amount of funding for hard-hit hospitals -- $130 billion -- as well as $150 billion for state and local governments that are cash-strapped due to their response to coronavirus.
It also has a provision that would block Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus, according to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office."
HURIWA recalled that the United Kingdom's Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday announced a £330 billion financial package to further support businesses and workers and to protect against the economic emergency caused by the coronavirus.
HURIWA quoted the UK treasury as stating that the economic stimulus package includes unlimited loans and guarantees to support firms and help them manage cash flows through this period of CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC. The Chancellor will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.
"HURIWA understands that the announcement follows last week’s Spring Budget 2020 which included a £30 billion fiscal stimulus package to support UK people, jobs, and businesses even as the Secretary of treasury in the UK Mr. Sunak said he would take further action as the situation evolved and outlined further measures including the delay to the implementation of the Off-Payroll Tax until April 2021."
HURIWA recalled that: "The announcement promised support for liquidity among large firms, with a major new programme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans, increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first six months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments. The government will also provide £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cash flow through this period by: giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months, increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000, and providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000."
HURIWA has therefore tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow a good leaf from both the USA and UK on how to stand with the citizens of their nations given that Nigeria borrowed poitical system of administration from both the USA and the UK.
HURIWA has therefore asked Nigerians to continue to adopt all scietifically recommended steps and personal hygiene to beat the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC in Nigeria as soon as possible.