Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo yesterday said the federal government is currently engaging indigenous car manufacturers to tweak their operations and commence the manufacturing of made-in-Nigeria ventilators to boost the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also said the government is working with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to facilitate the acceleration of the issuance of certificates of standards of essential items including hand sanitisers, coveralls for medical workers, face masks, needles, goggles, gloves, Sodium Hypo Chloride and digital thermometers, without sacrificing the quality of these products.
But even as the country continues to grapple with the spread of the pandemic, resulting in lockdown in some states of the federation, Adebayo said the federal government would in the coming week, inaugurate a post-COVID-19 committee, which would chart the way forward for the country in terms of building a resilient economy going forward, drawing from current lessons.
Giving an update at a media briefing on the pandemic to curtail its negative impact on the manufacturing, trade and related sectors of the economy, the minister said: “The knowledge that we have gained in this period will continue to serve us down the line. Moving forward, the lesson for Nigeria from this pandemic and its associated global challenges is that we must continue to work to build an economy that is resilient and innovative; one that can withstand the impact of the risks and vulnerabilities that are accruable from an increasingly globalised economy.”
However, he noted that following the total restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by President Muhammadu Buhari recently as well as additional measures to enforce social distancing and other preventive measures aimed at curbing the pandemic, it’s imperative that Nigerians have access to essential products nonetheless.
Adebayo said Buhari had consequently directed his ministry to work with Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigerian Traders Association (NANTS) and other affiliated stakeholders to guarantee that the production of essential items particularly food, medical and pharmaceutical products continues unhindered.
He further explained that several proactive steps had been taken in line with the president’s specific directive in the service of Nigerians.
Already, the minister pointed out that a committee on the sustainable production and delivery of essential commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic had already been set up, noting that all measures necessary to protect and promote the health and safety of industrial and related workers, their families, communities and the country at large must be put in place to curtail the public health crisis currently at hand.
Adebayo also stated that an emergency operation centre to monitor the supply of essential commodities has been established.
Housed in the trade ministry, he said the centre would help to monitor the real-time status of the transportation and delivery of essential goods to cut down on the difficulties being faced by manufacturers, transporters, and distributors of essential commodities across the country.
He said though distributors and manufacturers still had restricted movement due to the enforcement of the lockdown by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, the situation has nevertheless been addressed through an existing synergy between law enforcement agencies, essential manufacturers and producers and the ministry, which has “allowed us to be able to meet critical demands at this time.”
Meanwhile, President of MAN, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, said there had been two other proposals from manufacturers apart from the initial one from Innoson Motors for the production of ventilators.
He added that there’s still much to be achieved from investors especially when they are further assured of the government’s support.