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Group Expresses Fears Over Post COVID-19 Challenges

...Wants Gov Wike To Make Preparationss

Citizens Town Hall Meeting on Covid-19 has advised the Rivers State government to prepare for the period after Covid-19 to tackle challenges that could confront the state.

...Wants Gov Wike To Make Preparationss

Citizens Town Hall Meeting on Covid-19 has advised the Rivers State government to prepare for the period after Covid-19 to tackle challenges that could confront the state.

The meeting which held in May was hosted by the Rivers State Civil Society Response Team on Covid-19 through  Zoom App. The Civil Society Response Team was created by the Rivers Civil Society Organizations.

In communiqué signed by the Response Team Chairman, Ken Henshaw and co-Chairman, Enefaa Georgewill and others, the town hall meeting expressed concern that the state government was not paying adequate attention to realities that could confront the state in post Covid-19 era.

The communiqué said:”The alarming drop in the price of crude oil, the reduced demand for Nigeria's crude oil, the drop in the naira exchange rate and the general fall in expected revenues to the federal government will pose serious fiscal challenges that require fundamental planning and adjustment by the state government.”

The communiqué said it was unfortunate  the state government did not seem to be making adequate preparation to address emerging challenges after coronavirus and advised the government to set up multi-stakeholder think tank to plan and adopt strategies for the state's response to the expected challenges.

“The accruals to the state government from all its projected revenue sources in the 2020 budget will suffer setbacks which will expose the state to volatilities. It does not seem that the government is making adequate preparation to address these emerging challenges,” the communiqué said.

The communiqué also said that there was absence of any “far-reaching collaboration” between the state government and federal government agencies over Covid-19 and said the absence of collaboration “tends to diminish technical and other support benefits” the state might derive.

The town hall meeting said that the state could face food shortage if the current farming season was not taken advantage of as farming activities were hampered as result of the lockdown to fight the pandemic.

The meeting advised the state government to put “human face” on the enforcement of directives in the fight against the coronavirus.

The communiqué said: “The impression given by the agencies of the state tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the various Covid-19 restrictions is that they are fighting the people of Rivers State. Notable examples include the killing of a police officer by another police personnel attached to the state task force for the simple reason that the victim attempted to defend traders whose goods were being destroyed by members of the enforcement team. More worrying is the fact that the type of news filtering from Rivers State to the rest of the world especially with regard to the enforcement of Covid-19 lockdowns are such that investors may be disincentivized from establishing in the state”.

The citizens town hall meeting said that it would continue to monitor ways the government handles all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and make sure the interest of the people is protected.