Covid-19: Disquiet in Kwara over inadequacy, monetization of palliatives

By Mumini AbdulKareem
The plans by the Kwara State Government to provide palliatives for its residents who have been instructed to stay at home to observe the ongoing period of lockdown has continued to generate controversy over alleged insufficiency of the package.
Videos of some residents complaining about the government package with contributions from indigenes been distributed have gone viral recently in many social media platforms and online groups in the state.
But despite assurances from the government that the distribution will continue to remain transparent, several residents of Oko-Erin community in Ilorin West Local Government Area have also expressed displeasure over the inadequacy of the supply of palliatives distributed by the government to cushion the effect of stay-at home directive.
According to the Imam Daruq Onilu mosque, Oko-Erin, Ustaz Yusuf Ismail, who spoke with National Pilot, only 8 bags of 10kg of rice were received from the committee set up in charge of the area which were distributed to over 100 vulnerable persons.
He therefore appealed to wealthy individuals and organisations to complement government efforts in providing succour for the economic losses being experienced by individuals during the lockdown.
We received only 8 bags of 10kg of rice from the committee which will be distributed to over 100 vulnerable persons. I appealed to wealthy individuals and organisations to complement government efforts in providing succour for the economic losses being experienced by individuals during the lockdown, he added.
But a member of state committee on distribution of the palliatives, Alhaji Bola Olokoju, when contacted, said the community leaders added individuals that did not fall within the category earmarked by the government, thereby worsening the situation.
This development is coming on the heels of allegation of monetization of the items earmarked for distribution in unexplained circumstances in Kaiama and Baruten local governments in Kwara North.
One of the NGOs selected to monitor the distribution of the government palliative to ensure transparency, Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) has alleged that the items were surprisingly been monetized in some local government of Kwara North without the knowledge of the committee and monitoring groups.
In a statement after an on-the-spot assessment in the two councils, ENetSuD said this was contrary to the earlier position of the state government adding that many beneficiaries faulted the credibility of the sharing process.
Titled How KWSG monetized palliative package without knowledge of committee, the statement of the Kwara-based Civil Society Organization renowned for its #FollowKwaraMoney project, said the action was in sharp contrast with the distribution across other parts of the state where the palliatives were in the form of food items.
It alleged that depending on the population of the 56 polling units in Kaiama, the money was distributed N250,000, N100,000 and N150,000 respectively for immediate sharing to their residents.
“ENetSuD learnt that polling unit excos in some places that got N250,000 but allegedly removed N50,000 naira from the money, while the remaining 200,000 was shared among citizens.
“Some polling units have already shared their own money, while some are yet to at the time of writing this report. Township polling units in wards 1, 2 and 3 have reportedly shared theirs. Ward 1 has 4 polling units, ward 2 has 7 polling units, and ward 3 has 4 polling units.
“In Ogasani polling unit of ward III for instance, most people got N1,000, while some were left with nothing. In the Post Office polling unit, some people got N1,450 each, while some got N500.
ENetSuD said the money was brought to Kaiama by the State Commissioner for Environment, Arch Siafudeen Muhammad, who met with the APC Local Government excos, Hon Danbaba and the PA to Sen. Sadiq Umar, Yakub Yusuf to discuss the sharing formula in the LGA.
But when we asked what led to the decision to monetize the palliative items for Kaiama LGA in contrast to the food items being shared to other LGAs, some members of the Palliative Committee constituted by the State Government said they were not aware of the monetization arrangement and were not informed about it. This is a clear indication that the committee can’t account for this arrangement.
“Though ENetSuD cam confirmed that the beneficiaries cut across political party supporters, the process was however handled by executives of the ruling APC.
Some citizens of Kaiama berated the process and the amount of money shared, as they said giving some of them N500 is highly ridiculous compared to the food items people are getting in some other LGAs.
The sharing of money in Kaiama LGA was not known to any of the monitoring NGOs, and we can’t speak on the credibility of the process. Similar scenario also took place in Baruten, ENetSuD noted.

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