President Muhammadu Buhari says the country will continue to maintain its COVID-19 guidelines and protocols to protect its citizens and stop the spread of the virus.
The president stated this on Thursday in Abuja when he presented the 2022 Appropriation Bill for an aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion to the National Assembly.
It was reported that the president seized the opportunity to provide an overview of global and domestic developments in the country.
While observing the COVID-19 protocol during his presentation of the budget proposal, the president also gave a summary of his administration’s achievements, and it plans for the next fiscal year.
President Buhari stressed that these were exceptional times for Nigeria.
“The grim realities of COVID-19 and its lethal variants are still upon us. From president to pauper, the virus does not discriminate.
“This is why our country still maintains its COVID -19 guidelines and protocols in place to protect citizens and stop the spread of this disease.
“Over the past few days, we have consulted with the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and the leadership of the National Assembly on how best to present the 2022 budget proposal keeping in mind the deep-rooted traditions in place and the guidelines for safe mass gatherings.
“We ultimately decided that the most responsible and respectful approach was to hold a shorter than usual gathering while allowing the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to provide fuller details of our proposals at a smaller event,’’ he said.
President Buhari said the Federal Government had so far constructed 52 molecular laboratories, 520-bed intensive care units, 52 isolation centres and other medical facilities to check the menace of the pandemic.
“The pandemic revealed the urgent need to strengthen our health system. Towards this end, we also provided Personal Protective Equipment across 52 Federal Medical Centres and Teaching Hospitals,” he said.
He said the recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and subsequent incorporation of the NNPC, had resulted in the rationalisation of expenditure as well as increased investments and improved output in the oil and gas industry.
“We continue to push our expenditure rationalisation initiatives which we started in 2016.
“For example, on personnel costs, the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System increased from 459 in 2017 to 711 to date,” the president said.