Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As part of its response to assist the Federal Government tackle the effect of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the European Union (EU), yesterday, began distribution of basic food items to vulnerable households in the Federal Capital Territory, beginning with Karonmajiji community.
The EU is targeting 2,157 households whose livelihoods have been most impacted by the crisis.
The EU only recently, announced a N21 billion contribution to Nigeria’s national response to the crisis.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, who led a team for the exercise, called for solidarity to defeat COVID-19.
He said the gesture was aimed at mitigating the adverse economic effects of the crisis on the most vulnerable persons.
He explained that benefiting communities were carefully selected after a thorough needs assessment conducted by the EU and its partners.
Karlsen further explained that the choice of the beneficiaries and distribution of the items were being done in concert with the local leaderships of the selected communities.
A quarter (25 per cent) of the items will go to People with Disabilities (PWD); the rest will go to female heads of households and widows as well as other vulnerable households in pre-selected Abuja suburbs. Each household will receive assorted food items, including rice, beans, detergents, noodles sardines, salt, vegetable oil, tomatoes, seasonings, beverages and condiments.
Also included in the over N40 million intervention is the installation of public sanitation facilities in the communities and provision of information booklets on COVID-19 to enhance public awareness on the virus.
Karlsen said: “We are focusing on the immediate needs of the most vulnerable because they always pay the highest price when the economies are struggling,” he said.
Among them, he added, are people with disabilities, women and children – with intensified risks of violence – and poor people depending on the informal sector to get food on the table every day.
Karlsen added that the EU has been working with the Nigerians authorities and other partners to provide a swift, effective and holistic response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The EU ambassador said the N21 billion contribution channelled through the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund. In addition, the EU he said has also assisted UNICEF to procure vital health supplies to provide care for infected persons while containing further spread of the virus in the country.
According to him the Nigeria authorities have already taken delivery of the supplies, including test kits, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other vital items.
The Emir of the disabled in the FCT, Alhaji Muhammed Sulaiman Katsina, in his remarks, said he was overwhelmed with emotions that the disability community was remembered in the distribution of palliatives by the EU.
The emir who was they were full of gratitude for the items prayed for God to reward the EU delegation and its partners.
Founder of the Albino Foundation, Pastor Jake Epelle, said the whole idea of the distribution was to show the inclusivity principle of the EU.
We must imbibe common will to conquer it, Ngige urges Workers
As the world commemorates the May Day celebration , dedicated to workers, amidst the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has called on Nigerian Workers to develop and imbibe a common will to fight and conquer the invisible enemy.
Against the backdrop of vulnerabilities of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, Ngige, a medical doctor, said Government and Social Partners would look at the four-pillar plan of policy responses to COVID-19, laid out by International Labour Organisation (ILO) which are intended to be human-centred and built on global solidarity.
This, Ngige said, would be in addition to the Federal Government plan of action to sustain the economy in the context of the current global crisis.
He assured that all relevant factors to the nation’s workforce would be identified, analysed and solidified to ensure job retention and continued realisation of decent work agenda. He emphasized that Federal Government would be guided by labour standards as benchmarks for social and employment protection at this time of vulnerabilities.
DYON lauds FG initiatives
The Dynamic Youths Organisation of Nigeria (DYON) has commended Federal Government and its various initiatives put in place to stop the spread across the country.
The National President, Chief Livinus Elvis Obiekwe in a statement, said quick response of the government to COVID-19 pandemic which World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 declared global pandemic, had truncated and cut-off the connections that would have allowed massive infection of the populace.
“We are deeply delighted that the Federal Government of Nigeria immediately started interventions by engaging several safety measures to control, contain and curb the spread of the deadly virus in Nigeria.
“One of such remarkable efforts is the initial and subsequent Federal Government order to completely lockdown the incidence States of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“This action immediately and largely truncated and cut-off the connections that wouldhave allowed massive infection of the populace in other parts of the country with the highly contagious virus. It is also commendable that other states of the country with minimal incidences followed the same measures already set out by the Federal Government to check the exponential spread of the virus.”