While Say No Campaign commend the Federal Capital Territory Administration for it’s COVID-19 Palliatives distribution exercise in the 6 area councils of the FCT and particularly commends its effective exercise in Abaji, we would like the administration to note some issues that blurred its efforts at achieving a transparent, orderly and accountable distribution, and make effort to address them.
As the sharing of palliative items crawls to an end, citizens are concerned on the modalities deployed by the FCTA in the distribution of the palliatives across the 6 area council? Who are the beneficiaries? What was the criteria for selection? What exactly were the contents of the package? What was the intended duration for household use? And with the final remark by the FCTA Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu on a second round of palliative distribution, there is the question of when will it commence and who will benefit from the second round of distribution in the FCT?
From the close monitoring of the palliative distribution through our community citizens observers and Say no campaign anti corruption network in the 6 LGAs of FCTA deployed to observe the distribution reported lack of credibility, transparency and accountability in the entire process.
Having reported, at each stage, the lapses identified with the distribution exercise in the various area councils visited with the hope of improving the process, the conduct of the exercise as with it’s lapses remains invariably the same; replicating inefficient strategy from one area council to the other. Some of the red flags were lack of proper monitoring by the FCTA to ensure fair and equitable distribution of items, lack of a comprehensive beneficiary lists to ensure priority for the most vulnerable and to provide orderliness in the distribution of items, also observed were nepotism, inconsistency in observing social distancing regulations, lack of effective communication raising suspicions and causing speculations, amongst others, as highlighted in previous releases.
There were some areas, of course, that the FCTA did improve, the most obvious was the stoppage of night sharing and the use of ‘selection pass’ as a determinant of eligibility.
Having performed the same exercise in 5 area councils, we had thought that the FCTA would have learnt from its mistakes and become fully experienced to ensure AMAC was a great success. However, that would be asking for too much as indigent Community members are still waiting and expecting the items to get to them as promised by the officials. There were no reports of distribution exercise carried out in some major areas like Lugbe, Lokogoma and Mpape, despite the number of villages and vulnerable people in those areas.
Where distribution took place, there were uneven number of items shared; inconsistent social distancing efforts; and reports of Councillors politicizing the exercise as they received the items for their wards in private vehicles which some observers perceived as remuneration for voting them to office.
We have also observed in AMAC that the quantity of items largely fell short of the expectant households despite an earlier submission of the total number of expectant households of vulnerable members to the council, as remarked by a particular resident. Some Communities received a little above half of the numbers quoted, while others received more. This resulted in the scramble for the palliatives experienced in some communities when it was obvious that the items were insufficient.
Although the exercise has come to an end, the question of accountability must rear it’s head. We are expecting a comprehensive report of the exercise, which will include, the amount earmarked for and spent on the entire process, the verified number of items delivered to each area council, details of logistics, vendors and the procurement processes employed. We also expect the FCTA to conduct a thorough review of the process as a means of reflection and self evaluation, to question it’s strategy, it’s coordination exercise as well as the initiative of some area council to introduce and secretly share, in the dead of the night, a ‘selection pass’ for community members. It is the most responsible thing to do, and we expect that the FCTA will deliver in the interest of accountability.
Consequent upon the assurance by the FCTA minister of state, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, of a second round of distribution, we urge the minister to consider seriously the issue of beneficiary list, rightly updated for the exercise. Efforts should be made to ensure individuals who were unfairly exempted from the first round are rightly served in the second round. Active monitoring, at both council and community levels should be carried out by the FCTA officials, to ensure a fair and unbiased distribution is carried out; more hands can be deployed for this exercise. We also urge the Minister to employ a simultaneous distribution across the area council. The almost three weeks duration for the distribution, in a lockdown, only served to further agitate community members who are already frustrated about the quantity of the materials to be received, stalling the process can only aggravate tension and crisis. Social distancing must not be further compromised as Covid-19 is yet to be contained. The FCTA must enforce it and mandate every area council to submit a working plan that takes into serious consideration the issues of social distancing before they can receive their items.
We hope to have a more transparent, fair and accountability process going forward.
Say No Campaign is committed to the fight against corruption, while promoting transparency accountability and justice in governance, at all levels, in Nigeria.
Co convener Say No Campaign