Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi has said it is unfavorable to compare United States, US, United Kingdom, UK, and Canada’s COVID-19 support narratives to that of Nigeria because in the last few months the government has done so much for households to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ogunlesi in a series of tweet on Thursday explained that as directed by the government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has been able to disbursed a total of N49 billion in low interest loans to households and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs.
According to him, even though the loan is not dash, it does not take away the fact that it’s been an important lifeline to many. He added that the government can boast of so many beneficiaries though they may not announce it for various reasons.
That people keep quiet does not in any way suggest that they have not benefitted from the different aid programmes during the course of the pandemic, he said.
He highlighted the different programmes the Federal government engaged in to help business owners, households and the unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic.
He said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria also in March announced a 100 Billion Naira Healthcare Industry Intervention Facility – specifically to help them respond better to the opportunities thrown up by Covid-19. Disbursements ongoing. Page 4 of the most recent MPC communique (No 131) highlights this.
“Recruitment is ongoing for 774,000 Nigerians (1,000 per LGA; unskilled labour) for what will be the largest public works Programme Nigeria has ever seen. – road works, sanitation, construction etc. Three months in the first phase, Oct to December 2020. Monthly stipend of N20,000”.
Giving an update of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, under which the MarketMoni, TraderMoni and FarmerMoni is disbursed, he said;
“In one of his Covid-19 speeches, PMB directed implementation of a 3-month repayment moratorium on all @geep_ng loans, & all @NigeriaGov-funded loans issued by BOI,BOA,NEXIM @geep_ng also say they’ve disbursed palliative loans to 87,000 petty traders in 20 States. Target is 500k.”
He listed the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP, as part of governments intervention during the period of the pandemic.
He said, “NHGSFP implemented a MODIFIED version of the School Feeding Programme that saw dry food rations (rice, beans,eggs, tomato paste, salt) given to HOUSEHOLDS/PARENTS of a selection of benefiting pupils in Ogun, Lagos, FCT (early frontline Covid states).”
Continuing, he said, “Nigerian Government in July announced a stimulus package for the Broadcast Industry, involving debt forgiveness (60% forgiveness on outstanding licensing fees – amounting to billions of Naira), and a 30% discount going forward on license fees for all Open Terrestrial Radio/TV.
“When pandemic began, the National Social Register (NSR) contained details of about 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households (=11m individuals) across 34 States & FCT.
“Following PMB’s directive to rapidly expand NSR, as at June 30 it’d grown to 3.7 million (=15.5m individuals)”, he added.