Following the worrisome discovery of undistributed Covid-19 palliatives kept in various warehouses in most states across the country, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the COVID-19 palliatives.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) in a statement said: “We find it scandalous that these materials donated by groups of well-meaning Nigerian businesspersons, corporate entities, development partners and others, under the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) were left inexplicably undistributed by the federal, state and local governments, and in some cases these items got expired while others got rotten and thereby not fit for consumption.”
And, “in an attempt by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to clarify why some items were not distributed, they made spurious, baseless and unjustifiable statement that the palliatives which were discovered in some states were mischievous stories by the populace.”
“We, however, are forced to wonder why it took this long to distribute essential goods that was meant to alleviate the hardship faced during the lockdown period (April-June, 2020), Rafsanjani added.
According to him, the act is condemnable and a clear abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.
Rasanjani further said: “Some lawmakers issued statements to defend why they stored valuable goods that was supposed to be distributed to the population that they are supposed to serve.”
“No lawmaker has any business storing public property in private quarters, he added.
He called on the relevant anti-graft agencies, the National Assembly and all other relevant stakeholders to investigate such display of arrogance bordering on corruption, and why the palliatives were not distributed in a timely and transparent manner to the target vulnerable groups.
According to him, these individuals have to apologise to the public and face the consequences of their actions.
It would be recalled that Since the pandemic start, CISLAC has been in the forefront demanding for transparency and accountability in the distribution of the palliatives in the context of the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Part of the demands by CISLAC was the involvement of stakeholders – both state and non-state actors – which would have included genuine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), community-based organisations, religious institutions and anti-corruption agencies that would have forestalled the current crisis faced by the country emanating from the undistributed palliatives.
Current distrust of the population, social disorder and raids on government and private property is a consequence of non-existent transparency and communication to the public about government’s measures taken to combat the pandemic.
CISLAC therefore resolutely reiterate the demand for a transparent and verifiable system of the distribution of the palliatives so that the public can trust the government.
“We demand that the states that are yet to distribute their palliatives to emulate the few states that have distributed essential goods to the citizens judiciously.”
” We urge government officials, lawmakers and others, to resist justifying personal and institutional failures with laughable and discredited excuses”.
In the future, we urge the government at all levels to include community and religious leaders, genuine civil society organisations and representatives from the media in the disbursement of palliatives to ensure transparency in the process, CISLAC advised.
CISLAC unequivocally condemns the actions of some individuals who took advantage of the peaceful protest to raid public and private properties.
“Their actions are totally criminal as it cannot have any justification. It is important to draw a line between peaceful protesters who want security sector reform to save lives of harassed citizens and accountable governance and the hoodlums who have infiltrated these protests and are unleashing mayhem in different parts of the country.”
CISLAC sees all of these scenarios as a lapse in governance at one point or the order and requested that government and security agencies should ensure security of citizens by respecting the rights of genuine protesters while arresting miscreants who are bent on theft and vandalism.
The organization totally rejects the call that Nigeria be sanctioned by the international community, saying the call is totally unpatriotic and out of short-sightedness as it will bring untold hardship and compound the economic woes that is bedevilling the country presently.
The statement said: “CISLAC commiserates with the families of Nigerians, including innocent security personnel who lost their lives, and in some cases properties during the protest and aftermath of the protest and prayed that God grants their families the fortitude to bear the loss.”