President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of 70,000 metric tons of grains to Nigerians to help alleviate the harsh effects of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, who announced this on Wednesday, also announced the adoption of a document of implementation guide and protocols for the COVID-19 lockdown policy.
Mustapha, who revealed that the initial reports on public compliance to restriction order where applicable, also announced that President Buhari had granted partial exemption for operators of the upstream subsector of the nation’s oil and gas sector and operations at the Port Harcourt and other ports in Rivers State.
Explaining the presidential approval for the release of grains to Nigerians, Mustapha said it was part of plans to ensure some level of comfort for people across the country, especially in areas where the restriction order is strictest, adding that the first tranche would go to Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.
“The President has approved the released 70,000 metric tons of grains from the National Strategic Reserve, for distribution to the poor, the vulnerable and those whose livelihoods will be affected by the lockdown.
“The first tranche of about 6,000 metric tons will go to Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, while the remaining will go to other frontline states in the fight against COVID-19.
“In the continuing effort to ensure very minimal disruption of upstream oil and gas exploration and operation in Nigeria, Mr President has approved limited operations exemptions for operating companies, services and logistics companies in the Nigerian upstream sector.
“They will ensure regular gas supplies to power turbines that supply domestic electricity,” he said.
On the level of compliance to the restriction order by the President, Mustapha said the PTF had been impressed by the reports received so far, noting though that there were still some reports indicating that security operatives were having challenges, especially in states where governors had introduced their own set of measures.
“We have received situation reports from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Inter-State traffic across the Country as at Tuesday, 31st March, 2020. Indications are that there was a reasonable level of compliance with the Presidential directive which has led to great reduction of traffic on major highways. We have however received reports of challenges arising from the enforcement of the Presidential directives by security agents generally and in States where Governors have also imposed their own measures.
“As we continue to dialogue to remove the bottlenecks, I am pleased to inform you that the PTF has developed an Implementation Guide and Protocols for the COVID-19 Lockdown Policy. This document will be widely circulated to all security agencies and will be discussed with sub-national entities for the purpose of building synergy in the fight against the virus.
“In the course of this briefing, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps will bring you details of the nationwide traffic situation while the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 will provide the details on the guidelines and protocols for the Lockdown.
“I however assure you that these guidelines and protocols will be published in the national dailies and broadcast on the News networks.