Residents of Kaduna have called on the state Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai to probe the distribution of food palliatives following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About N600 million was generated as funds from deducted salaries of civil servants, political office holders and donations from private companies, which the state government used as palliative to ease the effects of the 75 days lockdown on vulnerable citizens in the state.
Investigations show that the two phases of the food palliatives distribution in the state, which took place in April and May respectively, were all marred by irregularities due to political interest.
Reports from members of the civil societies as well as testimonies from citizens shows that those saddled with the responsibility of sharing the palliatives abused the process.
Residents interviewed in Kakuri, Tirkaniya, Television Market, Ungwan Ma’azu (Kaduna South), Television Village, Television Garage, Nassarawa and Romi in the state Capital, Kaduna say the distribution of the food palliatives was marred by irregularities.
Also, some citizens from Zaria, Soba, Saminaka, Zonkwa, Kafanchan and Kwoi said, they were eligible for the palliatives but were side-lined because of political interest.
LEADERSHIP Reports that Kaduna state government released N500 million for the cost of the food palliatives where eligible families captured in the social register are to receive at least, food packs worth N11,000 each.
“The exercise didn’t happen as planned by the Governor. In my area, there was supposed to be armed security men monitoring the strict regulations of sharing these palliatives, but no, officials just came and select who they liked and give what they like. People only got food in pieces not in packs as the government arranged, a resident of Kakuri, Auwal Mohammed, said.
A 53- year-old mother of three, Hauwa Abdullahi, said her survival and that of her three kids depends largely on begging for alms.
Hauwa, a resident of Kakuri, said on several occasions, she finds herself in trouble with the Kaduna State Rehabilitation Board who are enforcing the ban on street begging laws, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened her situation.
For Malam Hamza, a popular shoe seller in Television Market, said it was a pathetic situation. They called on the governor, to investigate the sharing of the palliatives.
“It’s not that I was told, no. I witnessed the sharing of the palliatives in my area. Two in every ten vulnerable persons did not get the palliatives,” he said, attributing the failure to those who were given the assignment.
Kaduna has about three testing centres presently; the DNA laboratory, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Zaria, and a new community testing vehicle.
The Infectious disease control centre (IDCC) Kakuri which has been upgraded to an isolation centre and also conduct Covid-19 tests.
Apart from the IDCC Kakuri, Hamdala motel is another isolation centre while the Barrau Dikko Teaching Hospital also has an isolation unit.
Southern Kaduna now has a new isolation centre located at the General Hospital Kafanchan.
Recall that all Federal Stadia were to be used as isolation centre and Ahmadu Bello Stadium Kaduna was to be used as isolation centre but nothing of such is happening there.
It would also be recalled that the first set of covid 19 positive patients in Kaduna State with the Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai being the index case were all attended to by health workers in an undisclosed private facility except for the governor who disclosed that he was being attended to in an arm of the government house by health workers. The IDCC is equipped with ventilators but no one knows whether the other isolation centre at Hamdala motel has ventilators, it is not impossible however following reports of ventilators donation to the state government recently.
The extent to which the isolation centres are equipped and amount spent on such is also not disclosed. Even the cost of establishing the new isolation centre at the general hospital Kafanchan is not known.
Advocacies by the Civil Society Communities on asking questions about Covid-19 spending must be taken seriously. Two civil societies in Nigeria; “Budgit” and “Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)” have been calling on government at national and sub-national (state) level to desist from the habit of non-disclosure of spending. Budgit sometimes in the end of June disclosed in their Twitter handle that “so far only Oyo State has disclosed how much it spent on Covid-19” and by July 3; just few days later Kwara state released how much it spent on Covid-19 too. For SERAP, it’s a daily routine. They seek explanation on all funds spent. This kind of advocacies is the way forward. Nigerians must keep asking these questions until they get very good and well comprehensive answers.