As the deadly COVID 19 pandemic rages, countries are increasingly resorting to a total lockdown of economic activities and slowing down engagements that require human association, in a bid to control the rapid spread of the virus as the search for vaccines are intensified globally . As expected these restritions are taking a severe toll on the earnings and livelihood of the people.
In other to encourage their citizens to stay at home, governments around the world have initiated palliative measures to mitigate the economic impact on their citizens, especially on the most vulnerable in the society.
The past weeks have witnessed Nigeria’s effort at reaching out to it’s most vulnerable with different intervention programs, ranging from cash to food items. While this process of sharing or distribution have come under severe criticisms for it’s unequitable distribution, lack of transparency and allegations of diversions, the demand by citizens to get interventions from their government, at least to feed, has continued to soar.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration- FCTA in response, had announced palliative items for 600,000 households across the 6 area councils of the FCT for the most vulnerable in Abaji, Kwali, gwagwalada, Kuje, Bwari and AMAC.
Due to the prevalence of corruption in the country, and especially among public official, particularly in areas of diversion of funds and intervention packages, Say No Campaign had deemed it necessary to closely follow the distribution of palliative items earmarked for individual area councils for the purpose of monitoring the process for transparency and reflecting the observation and reaction of the beneficiaries and community members.
The Minister of State FCT, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, had announced that 25000 bags of rice and 25000 bags of condiments would be distributed to a 100,000 households in Abaji area council, a process that had lasted for 4 days.
Having closely observed the process of distribution, Say No Campaign commends the FCTA officials and the Abaji area council leadership for it’s coordination in distributing the items received.
The process, according to the reports we have received from it’s monitoring group, who are also residents in Abaji, was inclusive as community members actively participated in identifying all households in need as well as ensuring equitable distribution of the items.
They reported that although, there were some challenges with observing social distancing while sharing, the entire process was relatively orderly.
It is equally commendable that residents in Abaji testified to a fair distribution devoid of political, religious or ethnic biases. A feat that has become increasingly difficult to achieve in the country. This also contributed to the support and cooperation enjoyed by the distribution committee, further echoing the popular advocacy for the need to discard all biases and interests, if Nigeria must move forward.
While we commend the FCTA for beginning well, we however, urge it to intensify it’s transparency and accountability measures by allowing each community confirm the numbers of items they have received before sharing. It is important that every avenue for diversion be blocked and government processes be made utterly transparent to build public trust and support across board.
Similarly, a comprehensive report will be required at the end of the exercise, hence we require the FCTA to keep accurate account, including procurement details of all material and logistics, to ensure that accountability is not jettisoned as people get desperate for relief.
We will continue to monitor other area councils as distribution progresses.
Co- convener Say No Campaign