.Stay-at-home order to be sustained as long as necessary-FG
.Stakeholders identify loopholes in coordination of relief items
Nigerians have protested the meagre palliatives provided to them by the Federal Government to cushion their hardship amidst the stay-at-home order across the federation.
This is coming even as President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday further urged Nigerians to stay at home “once more’ as the Federal Government tries to combat the virus.
“But we ask you once more to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place and follow the instructions of our scientists and medical advisers: Stay at home, wash your hands, save lives.
“The freedom we ask you to willingly forsake today will only last as long our scientific advisers declare they are necessary,” Buhari told Nigerians through his spokesman, Garba Shehu in a statement.
While some residents are protesting the palliatives given to them by the Federal Government and some states, others have not even gotten the palliatives yet as hunger and frustration looms across the country.
In the FCT, already combined taskforce enforcing the lockdown had announced the seizure of about 1,000 vehicles with owners compared not to be essential workers, as citizen defy the lockdown order to look for food to eat due to lack of palliatives by government.
A situation which has further aggravated the anger of citizens, while probing the arrest of their vehicles.
Some Nigerians who spoke to the Daily Times questioned the lockdown order by the president, adding that hunger will first kill some citizens before the virus is curtailed.
Mustapha Idris, a taxi driver, who was angered by the situation, said the lockdown order without appropriate palliatives is irresponsible of the government.
“How do I feed my family and children? People like me sustain my family with this taxi business which I came out to do today so my family can eat, but now that my car has been seized, do they want me and my family to die of hunger,” he lamented.
He further stated that securing the release of his car will be herculean task for him, while urging the Federal Government and the FCT administration to come to the aid of citizens.
Another FCT resident in Jabi Daki-Biu, Obiora Chima, obviously frustrated with the lockdown order, queried the parameter which the Federal Government used in identifying poor citizens to distribute N20,000 palliatives to them.
“I heard over the radio that Federal Government is sharing N20,000 to poor Nigerians and even went to Kwali to start distributing. My question is how did they arrive at the number and people? Many people are poor in my area dying of hunger because of the lockdown and nothing has reached them,” he said.
He added: “If some people who feel entitled to get don’t get and few people get, how do you expect the other poor to fend? I think the Federal Government and states need to review the formula for distributing the palliatives as citizens are losing their patience”.
Meanwhile, confirmed cases of coronavirus stands at 323 across the country. Of that figure, 85 persons have been discharged while 10 deaths were recorded, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said on Sunday.
Kano, Anambra and Niger states recorded their first cases as the virus at the weekend as it has now spread to 19 states out of the 36 states of the federation.
Prominent among the 85 people that have recovered and tested negative for the virus, are the governors of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed and Oyo State, Seyi Makinde.
In another development, stakeholders have condemned the social intervention programme which is now being coordinated by the office of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq.
One of them is the Chairman, Senate committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Investment Programmes, Sen. Lawal Gumau.
While speaking on a current affairs programme on Channels Television “Politics Today” monitored by the Daily Times, Gumau said: “The money even for social intervention programmes are not going to the right hands, the minister has refused to carry the Senate along and has made the process a one-man show.
“For instance, the homegrown school feeding programme started with women in the village getting N80,000 per month each, now it has ended up with women getting only N20,000 per month. There is a lot of inequity.
“I want you to understand that what we are saying in the National Assembly is that we don’t want the programme to be stopped and the newly appointed minister did not stop any programme of the NISP like N-Power and Homegrown feeding programme, cash transfer or GEEP. What we are saying is that as a committee of the National Assembly, we are supposed to oversight the programme.
“So after our oversight, we realised that there are shortcomings and discrepancies between the objectives of the president and what is happening on the field. So we are calling for a review without stopping it,” he added.
Similarly, a public affairs analysts and stakeholder in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Segun Tomori, believes that the humanitarian affairs minister, if she really knows her onions, should have formed a team and nucleus around the brains that were driving the process before she was appointed which included the likes of the special adviser to the President on Job creation as well as the Special adviser to the president on social investment programmes.
“If you’re a minister and a manager, you’re supposed to improve on the processes of a programme. A programme cannot be 100% perfect, so if the president feels the programme is helping in alleviating poverty, the minister should fine-tune the processes.
“I believe that as minster appointed 8 months ago, any minister worth his/her onions should have gotten abreast with any programme, so for the humanitarian affairs minister to say she is still battling with programme shows a leadership shortfall,” he added.
The recent bashing of the minister comes after she publicly admitted that she is still studying the programme and facing challenges in understanding the scope, an utterance which many have faulted.
In a public meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly recently in Abuja, the minister stated that “the programme has been in existence since 2016, and when we came on board, we had to take time to study the programme and understand them very well so that we can positively improve.
“This is what we have been doing and we are faced with challenges and still facing some of these challenges,” she added.
The Daily Times had earlier reported how poor database has posed a challenge in palliative distribution by the Federal Government especially at a time when many Nigerians who depend on daily jobs have been stuck at home with no money and food but are not captured under the social register as either poor or vulnerable.
This paper also reported how the senate president as well as the speaker of the House of Representatives expressed disappointment over how the palliatives were being distributed, while adding that the palliatives are not reaching the target populace that need the money and other relief materials.
In the same vein, the senate president last week also punctured the contributions to fight against Covid-19, describing it as ‘uncoordinated’.
He said with donations from the private sector which has amounted to about N22 billion and some donations from National assembly and minsters, adding: “There should be a central body and not PTF nor the corporate groups should receive and manage the funds based on what the constitution provides for.
“Where everybody is just collecting and spending, I think it will lead us in a very bad shape, when people contribute their funds, they want to see such funds properly and efficiently utilized.
“There could be duplication, working across purposes, and at the end of the day, there will certainly be inefficiency in the application of such resources”.
Also, analysts have criticised many states who have not yet shown real commitment in providing palliatives to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 on indigenes, as the lockdown continues.
So far, Ekiti State has distributed bags of rice in some local government councils of the states as palliatives to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 on indigenes.
Kaduna State government had announced N500 million for vulnerable state indigenes to benefit from as palliatives in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the state government, the items include Spaghetti, vegetable oil, noodles, beans, semovita, sugar, beans and garri.
Also, Lagos State had announced that it has identified food banks to feed 20,000 Lagosians in the interim as palliatives with food items including rice, beans and garri.
Similarly, Ogun, Osun and Oyo states both in the south west have announced palliative distributions to its indigenes.
An indigene of Kaduna State, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the palliatives distributed by the state government is awful.
For instance, she said “only two noodles and a cup of groundnut is being shared in her local government per household and people are fighting over it, defeating the aim of physical distancing to curb the virus from further spread”.
Also, some videos which circulated on social media shows group of youths rejecting loaves of bread delivered by the speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly as well as some food items delivered in Kwara State government, describing it as an ‘insult’ to their sensitivities.
Although some few states have made commitment in other regions of the country, many analysts believe it is not enough compared with the damage the lockdown has cost Nigerians.
From the current protest, anger, hunger and agitations by citizens, public affairs analysts predict revolt by citizens across the country if government doesn’t expand the number of people to benefit from the palliatives provided by them especially now that a further extension of the lockdown has been announced.