We observed keenly the distribution exercise carried out by the Bwari Area council and are concerned that little or no progress has been made to achieve transparency and accountability throughout the distribution processes. This aggravated the tension experienced in some parts of the area council, especially in Kubwua and Byazhin.
Reports of unrest marred the distribution exercise in Kubwua ward, whereby official ran off and community members made away with items. Also, in Byazhin, distribution was suspended and items were returned to the area council Secretariat till further notice. Security men, distribution officials, as well as, community members were attacked and sustained injuries in the cause of the altercation.
This embarrassing situation could have been avoided had there been a clear modality for distribution, transparency in the process and effective communication by the area council Leadership.
Reports we gathered indicated that community members were largely unaware of the modalities for distribution. There were speculations that only the vulnerable and indigent members of the community would receive the items to be shared, others remarked that the council chairman had announced a house-to-house distribution despite knowing that the materials available were largely insufficient. No beneficiary list was compiled, hence, most households were expecting to receive their share.
Similarly, the so-called house-to-house distribution was not sustained and distribution officials gathered community members in open fields to randomly distribute the items.
The expectations of community members were further bashed when they realized that the quantity of materials earmarked for distribution in one community was not just far below the numbers of expectant households in the community, but also the items were reduced. Hence, instead of getting a 5KG bag of rice, a module of garri, 5 sachets of tomato paste, few cubes of Maggi spice, 1 litter of oil, beans and 2 KG of semovita bag, which the Minister of State FCTA had summarised as a bag of rice and a bag of condiments for individual beneficiary, community members were rather receiving a 2KG bag of garri and two sachets of sugar per individual, or 3 modules of rice and 2 sachets of tomatoe paste. The original package was stripped down to few items per beneficiary. As expected, this further hightened suspicions by community members who believed there was a foul play.
In addition, we wonder why community members were barred from taking shots or video covering the distribution process carried out. Allegations of security men snatching/destroying mobile phones of persons caught making videos, as well as, detention of community members who took pictures of the fight between officials and community members were abound.
The question that comes to mind is why prohibit remote coverage of the distribution exercise? This already casts doubt on the credibility of the process.
We also observed that the area council also negated social distancing in carrying out it’s exercise. It is disappointing that despite the outcry condemning previous distributions in other area councils like Kuje and gwagwalada, for disregarding social distancing and exposing community members to the Corona virus, that the FCTA would fail to monitor, ensure and sustain adherence to the NCDC directives.
It is sad that the performance of the FCTA in distributing palliatives around the FCT area councils has continued to dwindle from the commendable exercise in Abaji.
We therefore call on the leadership of the FCTA and the heads of it’s distribution officials to sit up and be more responsible at ensuring that the objectives of the distribution exercise is achieved; beneficiaries are duly identified and equitable distribution of items is ensured through active monitoring.
The area council chairman, councilors and community members who are part of the sharing committee must be held accountable to give details of how the delivered number of items were distributed. This is to regain or build public trust and confidence in government.
Accusations of security men brutality during the exercise of the distribution must also be taken seriously. Hence, we urge the FCTA to ensure that security men remain civil during the remaining process.
Finally, it is necessary to enable transparency in other to entrench accountability in governance. Hence, we urge the FCTA and the Area Council leadership to open up it’s processes to the public and desist from criminalizing and prohibiting media coverage by community members.
While the exercise may have concluded in Bwari Area Council, we hope that the FCTA can redeem itself by conducting a smooth, fair and equitable distribution exercise in AMAC.
Say No Campaign will be monitoring the process for transparency, fairness and accountability.
Co convener Say No Campaign