By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Senate has told President Muhammadu Buhari to close all airports except the ones in Lagos and Abuja, suspend visa-on-arrival policy, set up special intervention fund and address the nation on measures being taken to halt its spread in the country as the number of Nigerians affected with coronavirus disease, COVID-19 increased.
The Senate, which challenged President Buhari to tell Nigerians the efforts of the federal government in curtailing the disease, pledged to give full support to the federal government to fight the scourge.
These resolutions were sequel to the consideration of a motion raised via Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central).
The upper legislative chamber also urged the federal government to suspend airlines that travel to coronavirus prone areas
It also called for an emergency meetings of the National Council of Health to harmonise experiences and responses of Ministries of Health in the states, adding that the federal government and Nigerians must be kept abreast of all measures and developments related to coronavirus globally.
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Goje noted that all the 50 states in the United States are affected, adding that even though the government is doing well, its efforts are not enough.
In her contribution, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), said the outbreak of the disease is a wake up call for Nigerians to take personal hygiene seriously, adding that Nigerians should not go about in fear.
Also, Senator Ajayi Boroffice (APC Ondo North), said because Nigeria’s borders are porous, foreign nationals now use the land borders as entry and exit route to and from the country.
He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Health to immediately place a ban on citizens of countries already affected by the coronavirus disease.
But Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North) advised authorities of churches and hotels to introduce the use of testers in identifying infected persons so as to control the spread of the dreaded disease.
In his own, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North) said, “the issue at stake is one that calls for caution and proactive measures”, adding that “there are people who are having the virus and the symptoms are not there.”
“For us to deal with this matter, individual contribution is key. Those who have travel to the epicenter of the disease are supposed to isolate themselves. Are they keeping to this?
“If you look at our health facilities, it is not in the best of state. Countries with good health facilities are on lock down,” he stressed.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP Taraba South) said, “we (Nigeria) are the largest black nation in the world, and our borders are very porous. The dangers that this virus will bring upon us because of our policy will be very dangerous.
“Once you’re not a Nigerian, we should stop them at the border and ask them to return to where they are coming from.”
However, Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East) said, “even those that have the technology to solve the problem, the virus is still spreading without respecting any person.
“Let the Ministry of Health come with real standard on how to behave now. Our airports and seaports are still open, and you don’t have the equipments to fight it.
“Let no one from this chamber travel out of here. Let us quarantine those coming from outside. Let us be more careful because we don’t have the resources to fight it,” he advised.
But Senator Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North), urged lawmakers who travel out of the country to quarantine themselves before coming to the chamber to attend plenary proceedings.
Also contributing, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central) advocated for more resources to enable Nigeria establish test centres across states.
He stressed that the availability of funds will ensure effective tracking, testing and quarantining of anyone who comes in contact with persons identified to be infected with the disease.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called for improved measures to be taken so as prevent uncontrollable outbreak of the disease in the country.
He cautioned that, “even if our environment is hostile to Coronavirus, we need to be extremely careful. We won’t know when it adjusts to the environment and become very potent.”