The Nigerian government has established an emergency operation centre to monitor the supply of essential commodities during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, has said.
The centre, which is housed in the ministry, will monitor the real-time status of the transportation and delivery of essential goods to cut down on the difficulties being faced by manufacturers, transporters, and distributors of the commodities across the country.
The minister said this on Monday at a press briefing on what the government is doing to curtail the negative impact of COVID-19 on the manufacturing, trade and related sectors of the economy.
The minister said it is imperative for Nigerians to have free access to essential goods as a major segment of the country’s population lives off daily wages.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed his ministry to work with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigerian Traders Association (NANTS); and other affiliated stakeholders to guarantee that the production of essential items like food, medical and pharmaceutical products continues unhindered.
“After subsequent engagements with the leadership of MAN and NACCIMA, one critical constraint that was identified is the fact that while working to comply with the directive of Mr President, distributors and manufacturers still had restricted movement due to the enforcement of the lockdown by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies,” he said.
Mr Adebayo also said the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the police have so far been of assistance in ensuring that legitimate requests from the secretariat that haS been set up are promptly cleared.
“What this means is that the raw material needs of our manufacturers are being met, and recognised road transporters of essential goods are able to transport goods.
“This synergy, between our law enforcement agencies, our essential goods manufacturers and producers and the Ministry, has allowed us to be able to meet critical demands at this time,” he said.
Mr Adebayo thanked the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for the partnership with his ministry.
“The Aviation Ministry has availed us the use of a number of aircraft to facilitate the movement of essential products and personnel across the nation,” Mr Adebayo said.
He also thanked the Nigeria Customs Service and its Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, for ensuring free-flow of essential cargo through the ports to the final destinations across the country.
Availability of essential goods
Mr Adebayo said his ministry is working with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and NAFDAC to accelerate issuance of Certificates of Standards of essential items – without sacrificing the quality of the items.
He listed the items to include hand sanitizers; coveralls for medical workers; face masks; needles; goggles; gloves; Sodium Hypochlorite; and Digital Thermometers.
“We are also engaging our indigenous car manufacturers at this time to prepare themselves to tweak their operations to begin the manufacture of ‘Made in Nigeria’ ventilators – critical medical equipment in the fight against the virus”.
Post Covid-19 committee
The minister said his ministry will also set up a committee to assess the vulnerability of the economy to avoid deeper risks in the future.
“We must continue to work to build an economy that is resilient and innovative; one that can withstand the impact of the risks and vulnerabilities that are accruable from an increasingly globalized economy,” he said.
He said the committee will be inaugurated to begin its work in the coming week.