By Charles Nwaoguji
Abuja-based Human Right activist, Barr. Ahmed Osigwe Momoh, has called on the Federal government in collaboration with the Central Banks and the Commercial banks to make available at least twenty thousand naira (N20,000) loans that could be accessed via USSD code, or any other electronic means, and made available to every account linked to a BVN ( to avoid multiplicity).
According to him, this loan, should be interest free for at least 12 months or even 24 months, but shall attract interest after the given periods. The reality is that not every Nigerian would take the loan, but person in need would have the option to consider it. The federal government should also consider extending the curfew to the entire nation.
Momoh’s call was in a reaction to a call for total lockdown of Nigeria’s economy, on Monday in Abuja by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.
He said that this loan represents food stuffs government should have provided to the citizens as social welfare package, as it is been done in other countries of the world.
He reminded government that many Nigerians don’t have sustainable permanent jobs that can keep them during any lockdown, adding that if some people don’t go out in a day, there won’t be food on the table for their families.
“ There is no way that we can combat this scourge if the number climbs to the thousands, our health system would crumble, our entire nation would crumble to this scourge, we lack the equipment and the man power to battle this scourge, therefore we have to be single minded. We must invest all our energy and focus in prevention the scourge, hence the siting at home, is the only way we can win this battle. In this war we have only one bullet and we must give it our best shot,” he explained.
“Nigeria” Momoh noted, “is presently the world’s poverty capital and with the lock down on our economy will have a disastrous and devastating effect which will compound our insecurity and unemployment calamities”.
“Many advanced nations are locked down by this deadly Coronavirus. Europe is locked down, China is, America has been and Asia is locking down. The huge economic implications of these lock down is enormous for these nations.
“Back home, we are yet to imagine the huge economic implications on our fragile and deteriorating economy which lacks any social welfare for the young, middle-aged, unemployed and old people of the country.”
The question as to whether it is constitutional for the President to impose a nationwide curfew, the Human activities critic said the president can generously rely on section 35 of the 1999 (as amended) constitution particularly the ending parts of Section 35 (1)(e) of the 1999 Const (as Amended) , that lucidly states that a persons freedom of movement can be curtailed for the purpose of protecting the community.
He noted that . Section 14 of the constitution tells us the primary duty of government is to provide security and welfare of the people.
“The president has a duty to put the security and welfare of the people over and above due process and protocol. Nigerian lives first. This is an emergency and it must be treated as such,” he added.