NIGERIANS got an assurance on Monday from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that more palliatives would soon be offered to cushion the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Prof Osinbajo said President Muhummadu Buhari was concerned about the welfare of Nigerians, especially with the harsh effects of the pandemic on the economy.
The vice president gave the highlight, in a chat with reporters at the State House in Abuja.
He said: “We fully understand that we must have a way of ensuring that the pain that people feel, the economic difficulty that people are going through, that we are able to address those as much as possible.
“Which is why even in our current discussions with Labour, one of the issues we are looking at include, what sort of palliatives are possible for the Nigerian people. In what ways can we reduce the burden and how quickly can we do so.”
Giving insights to government’s plan for the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Osinbajo said: “One of those issues we have looked at is how to reduce the cost of gas and petrol. How do we ensure that people are able to go about their businesses buying cheaper energy?”
“One of the ways is by using the CNG. And the government has committed to do the conversion. First of all, we are starting with commercial vehicles. Most commercial transporters will have the capacity to use both gas and petrol.
“That is already being done, experimentally in Edo State. Dangote, for instance, has converted all his trucks to the use of CNG, and that is 4000 or even more of those trucks.
“It is not a particularly difficult thing to do for the commercial transporters, it may be expensive for the individual but that is also part of the commitment of government, to be able to do the conversion, and the price of gas comes at about almost half the price of petrol.”
The vice president also noted that “there are other creative ways that we are involved in at the moment, in reducing the burden on Nigerians, because we all accept that nobody expected a downturn in the economic fortunes of the country,” occasioned by the fallouts of COVID-19 pandemic.
”We had 12 consecutive quarters of growth before the pandemic, we were all expecting that 2020 will be the best year, since the beginning of the administration, but here we are, faced with challenges, global challenges, we also have our own peculiar problems.
“But, the important thing is that the President and the government are committed completely in ensuring that Nigerians do not suffer needlessly and in whatever way it is possible, we will reduce the burden on Nigerians.”