•By Ademola Akanni, Abuja
With the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus disease in China and spreading rapidly in the Far East, smart Nigerians have turned the incident into money making business.
The Gazelle News.com can report that Nigerians now export face-masks to Far Eastern Asian counties particularly China and they are smiling to the banks with money coming in especially hard currencies.
The rate at which face-masks are being exported to the Asian counries, The Gazelle News.com gathered, has become a source of worry for lawmakers in the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly.
In the last three weeks, The Gazelle News.com gathered, over 100 million face-masks have been exported to Asian countries through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Thus, prices of face-masks have increased considerably in the market.
According to Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) representing Anambra South Senatorial District who raised a motion on the need to control what he described as ‘unpatriotic exportation’ of face-masks, “As at 5th of November, 2019, stores that usually sell 1 piece of face-mask for N10 now sell it for N80, while a pack consisting of 50 pieces has now been inflated from N500 to N3,000; with a carton consisting of 40 packs also inflated from N20,000 to N120,000”.
The lawmaker, The Gazelle News.com can report, lamented that those behind the illicit trade are being aided by support from airport officials at both the Lagos and Port Harcourt International Airports.
He warned that unless something is done, Nigeria may soon be facing shortage of protective surgical face-masks, especially against the backdrop that “Nigeria is on the brink of an imminent outbreak given our massive population and frequency to travel.”
The lawmaker further disclosed that “Chinese companies have sent their agents to scout for medical face-masks in Nigeria and other African countries”, adding that “India and other countries are mass producing the face-masks in order to curb this deadly trend.”
He noted with concern that the World Health Organization has recorded 565 deaths with 28,276 cases of infected persons.
“If proactive measures are not taken to checkmate borders, an imminent outbreak might occur in the same manner which an infected carrier immigrant from Liberia transferred Ebola disease to Nigeria in 2014,” Ubah warned.
Consequently, the Senate urged the Nigerian Customs Service to impose strict penalties and heavy fines on anybody trying to export surgical face-masks within the period of the Coronavirus outbreak, The Gazelle News.com can report.
The upper chamber also urged the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Immigration Service and other relevant Government authorities to strengthen port health regulatory services in all entry ports across the country to check the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria.
The Gazelle News.com can also report that the Senate on same day resolved to invite the Minister of Health, Osagie Emmanuel Ohanire, to brief the upper chamber on the preparedness of his ministry towards taking precautionary measures to stem a possible outbreak of the Coronavirus in Nigeria.
The upper chamber also mandated the Health Ministry and other relevant agencies to launch a sensitization and awareness campaign in preventing an outbreak of the virus in Nigeria.
Copyright: The Gazelle News.com