Omodele Adigun and Adewale Sanyaolu
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday approved a two-month advance pay for Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries.
The gesture, according to the President in his nationwide broadcast on Sunday, was aimed at cushioning the effect of the two-week lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT in a bid to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.
Also included in the largesse are internally displaced persons who will receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.
‘‘Furthermore, I have directed that a three- month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.
I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.’’ The President said.
He broadcast came as several Nigerians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, last week slammed the Nigerian government for not giving stipends for poor families whose wellbeing may have been affected by the coronavirus.
But speaking on the financial of extending cash gift to Nigerian poor families during the period of the pandemic, a political economist, and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Kingsley Moghalu, says the Federal Government will require about N2 trillion to meet such obligation duringthe COVID-19 total shutdown order.
Moghalu in a statement released on Sunday in Awka, Anambra State, said that many low-income households might lose their sources of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the N50 billion fund established by the CBN for families and small businesses would not be adequate to address the crisis if and when it escalates.
“This imperative of poverty is the greatest immediate threat to curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“Therefore, the fiscal authorities must plan and make provision for the subsistence funding of all extremely poor Nigerian families numbering approximately 100 million for 30 days in this scenario.
“If a sum of N20,000 were to be made available for every impoverished family to stock up food and supplies for a month in a Covid-19 total shutdown scenario, this would require an intervention of N2 trillion.
“Even the N10 trillion Federal Government budget for 2020 may not be able to carry this burden, since it is based on projections.
“This will be possible however, if the burden were to be split with state governments. Additionally, members of the National Assembly should donate 50 per cent of their emoluments to this effort, ” he said.
Moghalu called for an immediate and complete re-programming of the budgets of the federal and state governments to focus on COVID-19 in 2020.
“The budgets must be re-programmed with the exception of security and the payment of salaries, not much else should really matter now, because we are at war with an invisible enemy”, he said.
The former CBN deputy governor urged the Federal Government to commence funding of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund with one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund as provided in the Nigerian Health Act (2014). He also called for an urgent fiscal reforms after the coronavirus crisis.