President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Ministry of Finance to release the sum of N620 million to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), for completion of the Gwagwalada Isolation Centre for COVID -19.
Lawan made the call shortly after inspecting the centre in Gwagawalada, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The senate president, who was in company of principal officers of the Senate and members of committees on Health and Primary Health Care, expressed worry over the non-completion of the center.
According to Lawan, in the event of any case of COVID-19 in Abuja, or neighbouring states, the Gwagwalada centre is not ready to take in any patient for isolation.
He said that the isolation centre was not in a good shape, noting that the Senate would ensure that the money meant for completion of the project was released between Wednesday and Thursday.
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“It is sad that out of the N620 million earmarked for NCDC, not a kobo has been released to the centre.
“It is so unfortunate that Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, with a population of 200 million, yet in the FCT and six surrounding states, the isolation centre is not ready.
“We want to see this temporary site fixed by tomorrow; we are going to ensure that the money is released.
“Let us spend our money for our people, we waste money for things that are less important, no investment is too much for the lives of Nigerians.
“We should be prepared at all times for any eventuality, we had Ebola, now we have Coronavirus, nobody knows what will happen next.
“If our government is prepared to release the money, nobody should hold the money back,’’ he said.
He thanked the staff of NCDC currently working in the centre to ensure that Nigerians were protected.
The Director, Human Resources, NCDC, Mr Yakubu Abdullahi, said the centre was doing its best to prevent spread of the disease.
He, however, said that the release of the funds would enable them complete work at the centre.
He said the NCDC was working within the resources at its disposal, noting that it had to source for funds to put some of the equipment like the Generator and air conditioning systems in the centre.
He urged Nigerians to adhere to the various preventive measures, noting that NCDC was committed to its duty of curbing the COVID-19 spread.