The Kwara CSOs Working Group on COVID-19, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) promoting anti-Coronavirus campaign, has criticised the State Government for monetising the distribution of palliatives in some local government areas of the state.
The group on Wednesday condemned what it described as unethical procedure of sharing money as palliative to the people of Baruten and Kaiama Local Government Areas of the state to cushion the effect of the lockdown resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19.
The coalition in a statement signed by its Convener and the Secretary, Mr Abdulrrahman Ayuba and Abdulrasaq Kareem, respectively, urged the state government to review the policy for obvious inefficiency.
The group, according to the statement obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin, comprised various non-governmental, non-partisan and not-for profit organisations.
It said they are working towards providing support including public awareness, monitoring the distribution of relief materials to the vulnerable as well as providing other support to the government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic across the state.
“As stated in our initial Press Statement we laud the government for the invitation and involvement of CSOs in the monitoring of food palliative distribution through the sub-committee on Palliative Distribution, though after an initial exclusion.
“While we appreciate this laudable gesture on the part of the sub-committee which has no doubt brought a lot of integrity and efficiency to the food distribution process in the Local Governments so far covered, we are greatly disturbed by the news of monetisation of the palliative package in Baruten and Kaiama LGAs.
This ordinarily would not have been an issue, especially if it is the people of the affected local governments that truly demanded for such.
“However, the concerns and issue here is the unethical way the whole process took,” the group said.55
NAN reports that two top aides of Gov. AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman’s administration have however explained that the monetisation was informed by the fact that the residents were predominantly farmers and hence would not appreciate food palliatives.
The officials are the Media aide to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Malam Danladi Salihu, and the Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Mr Saifudeen Muhammad, expressed themselves via a statement and radio interview.
But the group noted that as plausible and logical it found justification, it was quite alarming and extremely difficult to understand the reason why the sub-committee saddled with the task of distributing the palliative would be completely side tracked.
It berated how another set of government officials went ahead to distribute a whopping N20 million without the knowledge of the sub-committee.
“Yes, our interface with some members of sub-committee on palliative distribution headed by the Emir of Tsonga, Alhaji Haliru Yahaya, revealed to us that the sub-committee were unaware of any arrangement to monetise the food distribution in Baruten and Kaiama LGAs as against what obtains in other LGAs in the state.
“Now our worry, how do you ensure accountability and transparency, how do you ensure those that deserve this money get it?
“Already, reports we have is that Gwaria Ward in Kaiama local government council which has six polling units was given N1.5m, each polling unit getting between N200,000 and N300,000 with community members getting between just N500 and N1000 in Gatte community.
“Apart from not having a way of independently verifying whether those that are deserving actually got these money, it’s appalling that a paltry N500 or N1000 will be handed to an individual to survive on.
“We therefore condemn and distance ourselves as CSOs from this unethical procedure of sharing monetary palliatives to the people of these constituencies, who are already weighed down by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.
“We thus urge the state government to look into this issue for obvious inefficiency,” the statement read in part.
NAN reports that membership of the coalition includes the Organisation for the Sustenance of the Nigerian Environment (OSNE), Media Advocacy and Technology Centre (MATEC), Grassroots Development Monitoring and Advocacy Centre (GDMAC), Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradiation (CCEPE) and the Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA).
Others are the Initiative for the visionary education and social Support (IVESS), Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), Brain Builders International (BBI), Meadows Community and Development Outreach (MCDO), Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) Kwara Chapter, Theios Caregiver Initiatives, YAHF-Nigeria and the Initiative to Reawaken Kwara Citizenry of Civic Education as well as the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC).