By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, April 13, 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks.
The president gave the directive on Monday in a broadcast in which he also ordered the extension of restriction of movement in Lagos, Ogun and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by an additional 14 days, as part of measures to contain the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic.
He said that the expansion of the social register was part of the palliative measures to address the hardship being experienced by the poor and vulnerable members of the society as a result of the extension of the lockdown order.
According to him, a technical committee saddled with the task of identifying the modalities for the additional one million households will submit its report to him by next week.
“No country can afford the full impact of a sustained restriction of movement on its economy.
“I am fully aware of the great difficulties experienced, especially by those who earn a daily wage such as traders, day-workers, artisans and manual workers.
“For this group, their sustenance depends on their ability to go out. Their livelihoods depend on them mingling with others and going about seeking work. But, in spite of these realities, we must not change the restrictions.
“In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained
“This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programmes. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week.’’
According to the Nigerian leader, the cessation of movement, physical distancing measures and the prohibition of mass gatherings remain the most efficient and effective ways of reducing the transmission of the virus.
He, therefore, expressed optimism that by sustaining these measures, combined with extensive testing and contact tracing, the nation could take control and limit the spread of the disease.
“Our approach to the virus remains in two steps – to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here, and to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners,’’ he said.
Buhari urged all citizens to notify the relevant authorities if they, or any of their loved ones, developed any symptoms.
He said: “I will also ask our health care professionals to redouble their efforts to identify all suspected cases, bring them into care and prevent transmission to others.’’