…as $25bn state economy is under virus siege
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike says he is satisfied with the complete closure of all markets and entry points into the state, following his announcement of a lockdown of the state over the spread of coronavirus pandemic. By weekend, several hundreds of markets across the state, including the multi-billion-naira Mile One Market, Port Harcourt, were securely under seal, with security operatives patrolling the places.
Wike’s happiness over compliance level is the grounding of a $25-billion sub-national economy and Nigeria’s oil capital, with no hope of how long the siege would last. Dozens of oil expatriate workers are leaving the state. Just at the weekend, some 200+ French, Dutch and German citizens left Nigeria for their countries of origin.
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Oil is Nigeria’s key revenue earner, accounting for over 74.94 percent of the country’s income, and more than 90 percent of its export earnings. Today, it is the major funder of the 2020 federal budget, just like similar budgets in the country. The current spending plan of N10.6 trillion (or $29 billion) has greater chances of a review, as crude oil prices are down by 22 percent this year.
The governor led a team of state taskforce on enforcement of the ban on public and religious gatherings to monitor compliance with the directive of the state government, with warnings of applying more stringent measures from Monday.
“What we are doing is to protect the lives of our people. Some people may talk about the inconvenience, but you must be alive to talk about food. This is the time everyone must make sacrifices. This disease affects the entire population. Whatever measures we bring out is to curtail the spread of this deadly virus,” he said.
Governor Wike said that his administration was taking very tough measures because Port Harcourt is a hub that attracts people from across the globe. “Port Harcourt is a hub where you have the oil companies and the rest of them. We have two seaports. It is a place where people like to come and do business. We think that the measures that we have put in place have checkmated the spread of the virus.”
He said the state government would consider palliatives in the next phase of intervention, saying that the focus for now is to check the spread. When you talk of palliative, you are aware that the Federal Government gave Lagos State N10 billion as support. And so many people in Lagos have also made various donations. But in this state, we have not received a dime from any person. For the time being, people should make the sacrifice. The issue of palliative will be in the second phase.”