An Intra-ministerial Palliative Committee expected to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been inaugurated by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy for the Distribution of Palliatives under the Policy and Supervision of the Ministry.
The Minister, Dr. Isa Pantami had in 1st of May 2020 directed the parastatals to play a role in providing some support to ameliorate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.
The Committee inaugurated by the Minister will coordinate and supervise the distribution of palliatives from the parastatals as part of the Policy of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Addressing the Committee during the inauguration, Pantami said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had impact on virtually every country across the globe, including Nigeria.
Making reference to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, he said that as of October 8, 2020, close to 36 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported worldwide with a footprint across more than 210 countries and over 1 million deaths adding that in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that there have been 59,583 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,113 deaths.
He stated that the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has led to an inability of individuals and businesses to meet their needs due to constrained resources, a negative impact on employment and a sense of uncertainty, amongst others.
“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our country, it is important for us to support one another and remind ourselves to work together for the good of our fellow citizens. This is even reflected in the theme for the celebration- Together at 60!”, he said.
He added: “As earlier said, the distribution of these palliatives is in recognition of our need to support each other to ease the economic hardship that a number of people experienced as a result of COVID-19. It is also in line with Ministerial Policies that I release from time to time.”
Below is a list of some of the palliatives that are being provided:
i. 4 Ambulances fully equipped with ICU gadgets;
ii. 9000 bottles of hand sanitizers;
iii. 7,500 pieces of face masks;
iv. deployment of ICT Infrastructure to meet the specific needs of the NCDC and stakeholders, e.g. customized application to help contain the virus spread and provision of 100 laptops;
v. 120 infrared thermometers;
vi. food items to relevant communities in form of 3 trailer loads of rice;
vii. support in the distribution of emergency supplies;
viii. provision of dedicated satellite channel on the NIGCOMSAT Direct-to-Home platform for wider information dissemination;
ix. 20 sets of Personal Protective Equipment; and
x. ICT gadgets to support virtual meetings in Federal Public Institutions.
The Minister however noted that these palliatives will definitely not be enough for all Nigerians, “but we believe it will surely show our care and concern for them”, he said.
The palliatives have been provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone Ltd, Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NigComSat) and Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST).
The Ministerial Committee on Palliatives membership were drawn from all the parastatals being supervised by the Ministry.
Pantami said that the Ministry was also partnering with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and other Civil Society Organisations to ensure transparency in the distribution of the palliatives.
The full list of members is as follows:
S/N Name Organisation Position
1 Professor Adeolu Akande NCC Co-Chairman
2 Dr Abuabakar Saidu NITDA Co-Chairman
3 Professor Suleiman Mohammed NITDA Member
4 Usman Malah NCC Member
5 Hadiza Baloni NIGCOMSAT Member
6 Nasiru Suleiman GALAXY Member
7 Mr Franklin Alao NIPOST Member
8 Babagana Bashir NFIU Member
9 Linus Gubbi ICPC Member
10 Mohammed Aminu EFCC Member
11 Amb. Splendour A. Agbonkpolo Coalition of Civil Society for Citizens Action Against COVID-19 Member
12 Dr Kalli Zannah FMCDE Member
13 Isyaku Gwamna FMCDE Member/
The Minister disclosed that the activity is in line with the 7th pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS)- Digital Society and Emerging Technology pillar.
The pillar focuses on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of the ordinary citizens and this is why a significant proportion of the palliatives are based on technology.
The Digital Society and Emerging Technology pillar map the development of the digital economy to the attainment of 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most relevant to the digital economy, namely:
i. Poverty Eradication;
ii. Good Health and Well-being;
iii. Quality Education;
iv. Decent Work and Economic Growth;
v. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure;
vi. Reducing Inequality; and
vii. Sustainable Cities and Communities.
“We believe that the distribution of these palliatives will improve the indices of well-being and will put a smile on the faces of many Nigerians, encouraging them as we seek to forge ahead in spite of COVID-19” Pantami said.