As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to ravage the world with attendant impact on the poor, Social Action has faulted the method of distribution for palliatives, to the vulnerable persons in Nigeria.
The group in a statement made available to newsmen observed that the palliatives are not reaching the vast majority of the most vulnerable households in places monitored, such as Rivers State.
The federal and state governments had announced palliative measures, including the distribution of cash and food to poor households.
The Rivers State Government on April 11 announced its distribution of palliatives which is supposed to be a rescue package to the poorest to expand social protection, assistance, vital support and strengthen resilience in the face of the pandemic.
The Governor of Rivers State announced the budget of 2 Billion Naira to cushion the effects of the measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The governor inaugurated the committee which is chaired by Ambassador Desmond Akawor, the People’s Democratic Party Chairman in Rivers State Corruption and bureaucratic bottlenecks impede the effective administration of the palliatives.
But Social Action has maintained that investigation into the distribution falls short of expectations in many states across the country.
According to Social Action, an interview conducted with some families in River State who falls in the category of the most vulnerable indicate that most families are suffering untold hardship, as the breadwinners were unable to earn daily income during the lockdown.
The group said during a briefing at the Rivers State Civil Society/Media Situation Room on COVD-19, it queried why a party chairman should preside over such a sensitive committee, and why civil society was not represented.
Recall that the Rivers State government on March 26, 2020, ordered the closure of markets. However, such precautions are more challenging among the masses, as most of them cannot earn their daily bread. The masses were not prepared for the total lockdown.
“The Situation Room frowned at the practice of sharing government palliatives across party lines. The Situation Room also recounted the experiences shared by different communities in which the food palliatives had been shared, which never went well.
“The situation room asked how food could be shared across Obio Akpor and Port Harcourt Local government within 24 hours to all households.
“The Situation Room acknowledged that members of some communities received food items such as Indomie noodles, such as in the elderly and women in Okuru Ama Community, Amadi Ama and Abuloma in Port Harcourt Local Government.
” However, it was not the same in some parts of Obio/Akpor Local Government, such as Elelenwo, Rumuogholu, Eliozu, Rumuodara, Tank and Eliowhani, as residents cried out that the food was being shared to party members only. In parts of Port Harcourt, the story was the same or even worst as residents of Borokiri, Marine Base, Aggrey Road, Reclamation, Bundu Ama, Mile 1,2 and 3 cried out that they had not seen food rations from the government.”
In Gokana Local Government Area, Social Action revealed that the situation has not improved as many communities did not benefit from the government programme.
“In Tai Local Government, monitoring in Buno and Nowa communities, community leaders reported that they were waiting for the government to bring food after they heard of the measures on the radio. At Eleme Local Government, some packs of Indomie Noodles and rice were distributed among some community members. Families received few food items that would not last beyond a day or two, in most cases.”