COVID-19: Former TUC president seeks palliatives for taxpayers

A former President of the Trade Congress of Nigeria, Mr Peter Esele, has told the Federal Government to extend its coronavirus palliatives to taxpayers as a way of giving back to taxpayers in their moment of need.

“Identify the taxpayers and give them relief because you already have a data of these taxpayers,’’ Esele told a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview on Monday in Benin.

According to him, once this is done, more people are going to be swayed by the action to see the importance of paying tax – and they will begin to pay tax.

“Instead of government to continue taking without giving back, this is the time for people to know the importance of government in their lives,” Esele said.

The unionist described the current COVID-19 situation in Nigeria as a wakeup call to government to begin to address administrative and leadership lapses in every sector of the economy.

“It’s the first time we are facing something like this but it has also revealed to us the emptiness of our planning over the years.”

Esele said the way forward was for government to sustain sensitisation of the populace, providing enough testing kits and scaling up the testing capacity of the country.

He said there was also need to provide additional beds and necessary facilities at the isolation centres to discourage people from running away from the centres.

The veteran labour leader said the increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 victims was not unexpected in a country like Nigeria.

He noted that if the testing capacity of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was increased, more cases would be confirmed, expressing his disappointment that the NCDC had not increased its testing capacity significantly all the while.

“What we are having right now is what is expected because we cannot expect the number of people who are being tested or confirmed to go down yet.

“One would expect it to continue to increase for another one month before we start seeing decrease, which is the benefit of the lockdown and other measures like social distancing put in place to curtail the spread of the virus.

“You are going to have these benefits in highbrow areas because when you look at statistics from the NCDC, the local government area with the highest number of confirmed cases is Etiosa Local Government Area in Lagos State.

“This happens to be the area where you have people, who always travel in and out of the country.

“For a population of 175 million to 200 million people, I think our testing is still very low and I think there is going to be remarkable increase of those who are infected before the statistics can go down.

“However, I think the NCDC and those associated with it are in a catch 2-2 situation as they are truly in a difficult position through no fault of theirs.”

Esele said that government and Nigerians should not worry much about increases in the number of infected cases but that government should worry about how to expand facilities to accommodate more people down with the disease.

“Once we keep on emphasising that and everybody becomes aware of what they should do, everything will gradually start going down.”

“So what the government is doing is to relax the lockdown a bit and allow the people take a breather because if they don’t do that there will be social uprising,” he said. (NAN)

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