John Adams, Minna
There is uneasy calm in Niger state as residents of the state, private schools and other public institutions have asked to pay for the fumigation of their property contrary to what is obtained elsewhere across the country.
Due to the out break of the Coronavirus and the need to contain it spread in the state, the state government says it has concluded plans to fumigate all public institutions including schools, markets and residential buildings but at the expenses of the people.
Although the state has not recorded any case of the COVID 19, the government said the fumigation of these places is part of the proactive measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The fumigation exercise, it was gathered has already been contracted to a consulting firm, Said Shamira Investment Limited, owned by a close relation of a very top official of the All Progressive Congress (APC) led administration in the state.
The State Environmental Protection Agency (NSEPA) as Government Agency was being used to coordinate the fumigating exercise and collect the Levis for the consulting firm.
A circular to this effect sent to some organizations in the state is requesting proprietors of the over 400 private schools to pay between N10,000 and N15,000 for the fumigation of the schools while some other public institutions including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) recreation center was levied N150,000.
This development has raised serious concern and worries among residents of the state, especially owners of the public buildings who have raised serious opposition to the government policy and have vowed to resist it.
Some of those who spoke with our correspondent wondered why government should asked them pay for the fumigation when in other states it is done free for their people.
A proprietor of one of the private schools in Minna who spoke on condition of anonymity said “we are aware that it is a private company that has been given this contract, whereas it is the responsibility of government.
This is nothing but a direct exploitation of the people to make some friends of the government and party loyalists rich. We will resist it, and if possible challenge it in court”, he fumed.
Another proprietor, in his reaction wondered what the government will do with donations it has received from individuals and organization to fight the corona virus pandemic, stressing that “I read in the media that UBA PLC gave the government N28.5 m to fight corona virus can’t the government take out of this money”, he queried.
When contacted on this development, the state COVID 19 TaskForce Chairman and Secretary to the state government, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane confirmed the development, saying that the fumigation of the schools is a favour, including the N15,000 levy.
“They are collecting heavily from parents so they should be able to pay for the fumigation of their schools to secure the lives of the children”.
In the same vein, the Director General of the Niger state Environmental Protection Agency ( NISEPA), confirmed the development, saying that decision by the government to embark on the fumigation was as a result of the out break of the Coronavirus.
He admitted that a private firm has been engaged by the government to carry out the fumigation and collect it money from the public “because government alone can not do everything, More so that there was no budget provision for it.”
According to him, “this thing came up because of the out break of the Coronavirus and the need to take urgent and proactive measure towards containing the spread. You know now the government does not have the resource to under take this, that is why we said that the public should bear the cost of the fumigation.”