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Monetisation Of Food Palliatives: Our Stand!!!

By Kwara State Civil Society Organizations 2019
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Tuesday April 14, 2020: The Civil Society Working Group on Covid 19 is a coalition various non-governmental, non-partisan and not-for profits organizations 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 part of these efforts, our members have been active in sensitizing groups and individuals through physical engagements, traditional and social media on the causes, possible symptoms as well as available preventive measures against the Covid 19 virus. We also advocate sit at home directive by the government and engage in regular sensitisation of the public through different media.

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.

Reading through the statement issued by the Media aide to the Honorable Speaker, KWHoA and listening to the Commissioner of Environment and Forestry, Arc. Saifudeen Muhammad on radio recently, the justification given was that the residents of Baruten and Kaiama LGAs are predominantly farmers and they would not appreciate food palliatives hence, the monetisation of their palliatives.

While this seems plausible and somehow logical we found it quite alarming and extremely difficult to understand the reason why the sub-committee saddled with the task of distributing the palliative will be completely side tracked and another set of government officials will go ahead to distribute a whopping N20million (N14m already shared in Kaiama LG according to the Commissioner) 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, HRH 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 from Kaiama LGA (Gwaria ward which has 6 polling units) was given N1.5m, each polling units 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.

However, given the level number of Covid 19 cases in the state and most citizens attitude towards precautionary measures such as *social distancing, regular washing of hands with soap and water, use of nose mask and hand sanitizers and stay at home order*, we urge the State Government, local government, our colleagues in the Press, CBOs and other CSOs platforms to intensify their campaign against Covid 19 in the rural communities where the knowledge of its occurrence is very low. This is to prevent possible community spread and keep the people of Kwara safe against the pandemic.

Lastly, Kwara State Government should reposition her transparency & accountability disposition on the COVID-19 palliative response and open up the committees on COVID-19, in order to accommodates more partnerships for seamless interventions on Covid 19 in all the 16 LGAs of the State.

Thank You

Signed:
Comrade Ayuba Abdurrahman Akindele
Convener
08037006799

Comrade Kareem Abdulrasaq
Secretary
08130781449

List of participating Organizations:

1. Organization for the Sustainance of the Nigerian Environment (OSNE)

2. Media Advocacy and Technology Centre (MATEC)
3. Grassroots Development Monitoring and Advocacy Centre (GDMAC)

4. Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE)

5. Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA)

6. Initiative for the visionary education and social Support (IVESS)

7. Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD)

8. Brain Builders International (BBI)

9. Meadows Community and Development Outreach (MCDO)

10. Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) Kwara Chapter

11. Theios Caregiver Initiatives

12. YAHF-Nigeria

13. Initiative to Reawaken Kwara Citizenry of Civic Education

14. Fulfilling Dreams Foundation

15. CIRDEV RESOURCE CENTRE

16. Budget Information Technology Network (Budgit)

17. Living Care Community Development Foundation

18. Life's Value Rectitude Inter. Foundation

19. Bazarab Education Foundation

20. Worthy Life Education and Health Foundation

21. Olive Community Development Initiative

22. Trios Foundation

23. Integrity Missions International

24. Playsafe Lifecare Foundation

25. Royal Heritage Health Foundation

26. Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD)

27. Women Environment and Youth Development Initiative (WOYODEV)

28. Hill-Trust Top Foundation.