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Rivers Govt Shuts Down Schools, Restricts Religious Activities Over Coronavirus

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The Rivers State Government has closed all schools in the state and directed all religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

In a statewide broadcast on Friday, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the action was taken in the interest of Rivers State.

The closure affects public and private Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions.

He said: “Based on the above precautionary measures, the State can be described to be at an alert state. To further strengthen our resolve to protect our citizens, the State Government has taken the following decisions:

“1. All Schools in the State are to be closed down with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.

2. All Religious Organisations are to restrict their activities.”

Governor Wike said that his administration took the decision with a deep sense of responsibility.

He said: “As you are aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described coronavirus as a global pandemic. This development calls for collective action by all well-meaning citizens.

“As a responsive government, even though we have not had a confirmed case of coronavirus, we did not rest on our oars as we set-up a Five-man Inter-ministerial committee to carry out an aggressive public enlightenment that will protect all those living and doing business in the State from the disease.

This decision was taken because we understand that we are the headquarters of the Hydrocarbon Industry and also a major commercial hub in the country that attracts people from all walks of life.”

The Rivers State Governor noted that with actions taken, the State is alert to address any situation.

The committee had since its inauguration carried out Stakeholder Engagement with Community Development Committees, Religious Groups, Principals and Head teachers of schools, Traders Association, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Military, Paramilitary, Police, International Oil Companies and The Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON).

n addition to this, radio and television jingles, flyers and billboards have been fully utilised by the committee to pass the prevention message to all the nooks and crannies of the State.”

The Governor added: “The State Ministry of Health has also been empowered to set up intervention resources:

“i. 158 Surveillance and Ad-hoc personnel have been trained.

ii. One Treatment Centre, Holding Centers in the Two Teaching Hospitals and all General Hospitals in the State are fully functional.

“iii. All Health Workers, both private and public have been trained and briefed on Infection Control Measures and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),Hand Sanitizers have been procured, Infrared thermometers have been procured and Stockpiling of other commodities and equipment and we have redoubled surveillance at our Airports, Seaports

Waterways and Land routes.”

Governor Wike pleaded for the understanding of Rivers people.

He said: “My dear good people of Rivers State, as painful as these decisions may seem, it is a sacrifice we must make to protect ourselves in the face of recent developments.

“Let me assure all those resident in the State, that the State Government under my leadership is ready and willing to protect their lives at all times.

May I therefore call for the understanding and collective support of all and sundry to keep our State safe from coronavirus.
Together, we shall win with God on our side.”

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Governance

COVID19: Lagos govt confirms 119th case as national total reaches 224

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COVID19: Nigeria Records Second Death AS Five Patients Are Discharged in Lagos

Six new cases confirmed by the Lagos State Government on Sunday has raised the number of Coronavirus infections in the state to 119.

The Commissioner of Health in the state, Akin Abayomi disclosed on his verified Twitter handle that that 24 patients have so far been discharged, following their recovery from the disease.

In a series of tweets, the commissioner wrote: “Update as at 11.20a.m, 5th April, 2020. Six cases of COVID-19 confirmed, bringing total confirmed cases to 119.

“A COVID-19 patient was discharged on 4th April, 2020. The numbers of COVID-19 patients who have fully recovered and discharged are now 24.”

Recall that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had confirmed ten new cases of coronavirus on Sunday.

The new cases were recorded in Lagos, Abuja and Edo thereby bringing the total number to 224.

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COVID19: TJ&GP urges Govt to target vulnerable groups with palliative measures, improve on accountability

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COVID19: TJ&GP urges Govt to target vulnerable groups with palliative measures, improve accountability

Tax Justice and Governance Platform, a not-for-profit network facilitating universal fair tax justice and good governance in Nigeria has called on governments and stakeholders involved in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to “pay serious attention and take actions that will directly impact the wellbeing and aspirations of vulnerable, marginalized, excluded and under-served members of our communities.”

“Following the Coronavirus pandemic, the Central Bank of Nigeria earmarked N100billion to enable the country prepare for the worst. Before now, the Lagos State government had requested for financial support to combat and contain the spread of the virus in Lagos, following similar requests by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The President has already approved the sum of N10 billion which was released within two days of the request to the Lagos State government and N5billion to the NCDC respectively. In the same vein, philanthropists, artists and development agencies are set to support the fight in the country, to ensure that these funds are accounted for and used judiciously”, the statement added.

The group in the release sent to FR News said: “ we would appreciate measures that directly target the poor, people living with disabilities, informal sector, unemployed, underemployed, small businesses and start-ups, especially legitimate taxpayers.”

The statement continued thus:

The network is calling on the government to improve on its accountability measures to the citizens, to monitor, drive conversation to spark actions and advocate for a transparent and

inclusive approach of concerned stakeholders and private sector groups and individuals to make public all funds released for the fight against COVID-19 and its implementation plans. Government will therefore be expected to provide all these details in the public domain using available technological tools and media platform.

Instructively, after due consultations with our members, partners, stakeholders and the public, we make the following suggestions in the interest of Nigerians as our contribution to stemming the tide of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria and alleviating the sufferings of the people.

Our suggestions are as follows:

1. Governments at all levels should increase accountability and transparency measures in its COVID-19 Intervention funds utilization.

2. Put in place monitoring mechanisms towards ensuring that funds meant for the Covid-19 intervention are accounted for and used judiciously.

3. Promote equal and improved health care interventions for all victims of COVID-19.

4. Improved space for citizen’s participation in the intervention in demanding for transparency and accountability in the health sector towards reducing inequality experienced in that sector.

5. Improved response of Government at all levels towards equitable distribution of relief materials to citizens especially at rural and semi-urban households.

6. The inclusion of civil society actors in the various COVID-19 task forces across board to strengthen transparency, accountability and diversity in the process.

7. The decentralization of the task forces to meet geopolitical needs and deal with specific challenges.

8. The issuance of a circular from the FIRS/JTB to officially extend the date of returns and waive all penalties on late filing of VAT, PIT/PAYE, WHT, CIT and CGT.

9. The suspension of all consumption taxes by the JTB in conjunction with state governments and compliance by collecting agents, accordingly.

10. Stipulation of a specific timeline for the commencement of the palliative measures as “in the coming weeks” is not good enough and will not allow for effective monitoring and measuring of impact.

11. Provision of more proactive, practical and measurable steps or actions using data and info graphics to communicate to the people at both the national and subnational levels.

12. The downward review of VAT or a suspension of its implementation to reflect present realities, especially for small businesses.

13. Granting of tax holidays to the vulnerable and downward review of all taxes to reflect present realities as seen in other progressive climes.

14. Government is encouraged to consider paying stipends to workers, registered small businesses and individuals with valid accounts for this period.

15. The Nigeria people are more than ever encouraged to support efforts by governments at all levels to mitigate this unfortunate situation by complying with directives and staying at home as long as it is, necessary.

16. Subnational governments should sincerely put precautionary measures in place in the event the pandemic finds its way to their states.

Conclusively, no time can be better than now to demonstrate solidarity, charity and empathy in society as we struggle together to overcome this scourge.

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