For Nigeria to effectively fight the deadly coronavirus, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend utility charges.

The party had asked CBN to immediately open an arrangement with commercial banks for the suspension of charges for electricity, use of ATM cards and reduction of mobile fund transfers as part of the panacea to ease the burden of poor Nigerians during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a statement released by the party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan on Monday 20, April, the party said the lockdown has subjected majority of Nigerians to extensive use of ATM and mobile transfers for survival, making the suspension of charges on minimal transactions within this period of restriction highly imperative.

The statement which was also read in parts said, “lifting of the charges within the period of this virus will ease the burden on cash withdrawals by our vulnerable citizens as well as encourage more Nigerians to support one another at this critical time.

“The PDP demands the CBN to immediately liaise with commercial banks and stimulate a special social sustenance modality to defray the cost of such charges, particularly to cover minimal transactions to favour the vulnerable Nigerians,” the statement read.

The opposition party to the All Progressives Party (APC) also stated: “At the same time, our party urges the Federal Government to activate similar social sustenance scheme to immediately defray electricity tariff, particularly in areas populated by low income and vulnerable Nigerians across the country within the period of the lockdown.

“The PDP calls on the Federal Government to show compassion on suffering Nigerians whose means of subsistence has been affected by the lockdown, and immediately provide funds to electricity distribution companies to actuate the tariff suspension within this time.

“The PDP went on to advice the Federal Government to immediately begin the collation of data from trade unions and corporative societies covering low income groups such as market women, okada riders, artisans, cab drivers, labourers among others, for possible economic recovery funds and loans to buoy their businesses at the end of the lockdown.

“Our citizens are passing through very difficult and harrowing experiences and our party is worried that the Federal Government has so far failed to reach most vulnerable Nigerians, whose survival directly depends on daily income in the markets, shops and streets, have been crippled by the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Consequently, the PDP restates its call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately extend similar financial intervention that was released to Lagos state to all other states in the country,” the statement said.

It continued: “Mr. President should also take immediate steps to end the manifest corruption in his administration’s social intervention scheme, through which palliatives funds meant for Nigerians are allegedly being frittered by officials.

“Such social investment funds should be channeled to states for disbursement through the machinery of local governments, traditional institutions and community leadership to ensure that they reached the target vulnerable groups.

“Moreover, our party charges the Federal Government to open up on the billions of naira so far donated by private individuals, firms as well as donor agencies and immediately constitute an Eminent Nigerian Group drawn from the private sector to manage the fund to eliminate corruption, bureaucratic and political bottlenecks.

Our primary focus as a party remains the welfare of our citizens as we stand with them in this battle to check the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in our country,” the PDP statement added.

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