An anti-corruption consortium under the campaign brand, ‘Upright for Nigeria, Stand Against Corruption,’ has urged the Lagos State Government to investigate controversies surrounding the distribution of food palliatives in the state during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The group expressed concerns over the lopsided distribution of palliatives among the aged and vulnerable people in the state as reported by The PUNCH on July 5, 2020.
Titled “COVID-19 lockdown: How ‘diversion’ denied many poor, vulnerable person’s govt’s food,” the story detailed the plight of elderly poor people who did not benefit from the food rations, despite cash donations the state government received from the Federal Government, individuals and corporate bodies.
While the Federal Government gave Lagos N10bn to support responses to the pandemic, individuals and organisations donated about N2.5bn to the state government between March 27 and May 4, 2020, according to Covidtracka.
Covidtracka is a platform put in place by BudgIT to track donations given to the federal and state governments to cushion the effect of coronavirus.
The state government claimed to have distributed food palliatives to about 500,000 households but many community leaders who spoke to our correspondent alleged that part of the palliatives were diverted.
In a statement on Monday signed by a member of the consortium, Centre for Communication and Social Impact, the group demanded investigation into the distribution of the palliatives.
The statement, titled, “Consortium calls for investigation into COVID palliative distribution,” was signed by the CCSI Executive Director, Babafunke Fagbemi.
It read in part, “Anti-corruption consortium under the campaign brand of ‘Upright for Nigeria, Stand Against Corruption’ has viewed with increased concern the reported lopsided and uneven distribution of the COVID-19 pandemic palliatives among the aged and vulnerable people in Lagos state.
“The Punch Newspaper of Sunday July 5, 2020 under the headline “COVID-19 lockdown: How ‘diversion’ denied many poor, vulnerable person’s govt’s food” detailed various instances whereby the palliatives meant to reach the poorest of the poor and People Living With Disabilities never reached them.
“Upright for Nigeria Campaign is particularly worried about plights of sight impaired citizens like Kafayat Abayomi and her eight-year-old son who have to depend on the magnanimity of neighbours to eat every day in spite of the billions of naira earmarked to take care of such people in the society.”
The consortium identifed other worrisome aspects of the distribution as ranging from inadequate distribution of palliatives, whereby a community was given only 5kg of rice, beans and garri.
It added, “Also, the traditional ruler of Orimedu in Ibeju-Lekki revealed that even though officials of the government came to collect details of potential beneficiaries, none of the 60 elderly indigents got any palliatives.
“Upright for Nigeria campaign is confident that the Lagos state government is responsive and people-centered, therefore demand that the state government opens inquiry into the allegations of ‘diversion’ of palliatives as reported in the Punch Newspapers.
“Upright for Nigeria calls for the inclusion of members of the civil society in the committee and implementation team going forward and demands that PLWD must be given top priority and considerations in the distribution of palliatives in the future.”
First published by Punch Newspaper