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Group cautions against handouts for councils, urges self-reliance

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The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has called for on the 774 local governments in Nigeria to be self-reliant, centres of industrial production, and not receivers of unsustainable Federal Government handouts.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians (1,000 per local government area) on Special Public Works programme to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

CHRICED stated that it has studied Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed’s speech in which she outlined government’s fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, said, “While this step might be an emergency measure aimed at putting money in people’s pockets, it falls short of a strategic, clear-headed and sustainable intervention needed to turn the crisis into an opportunity to diversify the nation’s economy.

“With N600b set aside for the programme, Nigeria leveraging on the energy, creativity and ingenuity of its people, could start the journey towards industrial revolution targeting key areas of comparative advantage in the 774 councils.

Besides, Oxfam, an international non-governmental organisation, has warned that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis could push 500 million people into poverty globally, unless urgent action was taken to rescue developing countries.

In its new report titled, “Dignity Not Destitution,” Oxfam suggested that between six and eight per cent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down their economies to manage the spread of the virus.

Its Interim Executive Director, Jose Maria Vera, said, “The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt globally, but for the poor in poor countries who are already struggling to survive, there are almost no safety nets to stop them from falling into poverty.”

Oxfam urged world leaders to agree an ‘Economic Rescue Package for All’ to keep poor countries and poor communities afloat, ahead of key meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G-20 Finance Ministers’ next week.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has partnered with 80 health workers, including medical doctors, drug counselors and other professionals across Nigeria to provide over-the-phone assistance for drug users or families who need such services during the COVID-19 scourge.

It explained that this was to provide immediate and practical relief for needy drug users within the framework of the European Union (EU) funded Nigeria Drugs Project (NDP).

In a statement issued by its National Project Officer, Sylvester Tunde Atere, it said, “Due to their poorer health profile, drug users are more vulnerable to experiencing COVID-19 more severely.”

He disclosed that the health professionals, who responded to UNODC’s request to establish the network, have been trained and certified under the project in drug treatment using the Treatnet methodology or Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC).


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