Kaduna acting governor denies COVID-19 palliative was hoarded

The Acting Governor of Kaduna State, Dr Hadiza Balarabe has clarified that the food items that were looted on Saturday were donations from Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID).

Dr Balarabe also dispelled the rumour that the donations were hoarded by the government or any of its officials. She praised law-abiding citizens and appealed for their understanding on the necessity of the 24-hour statewide curfew.

In a state broadcast on Sunday evening, the Acting Governor explained that ‘’the government was ready to commence distribution in all the local government areas, after taking pains to arrange a fair and efficient system.’’

According to her, ‘’Kaduna State received the last delivery of CACOVID items after lifting the lockdown, at a time when the state’s Covid-19 figures were rising.’’

“The government considered the real possibility that a second lockdown might be required. Therefore, it weighed the prospect of using these donations to mitigate the lockdown were such to happen,’’ Dr Balarabe said.

The Acting Governor said that ‘’government did not wish to rely again on donations by public servants in Kaduna State that had funded the first two rounds of palliatives distributed in the state.’’

‘’However, the government subsequently decided to distribute the CACOVID items to vulnerable citizens, using the lessons from the distribution of the items purchased by the state government during the lockdown,’’ she added.

Dr Balarabe said that one of these lessons that were learnt from the previous exercises ‘’ is about better targeting of beneficiaries in order to ensure fair spread across local governments.’’

‘’The Local Government Co-Ordinators and Ward Committees were tasked with identifying vulnerable persons in areas where the Social Register data was unavailable,’’ she added.

The Acting Governor recalled that the state had purchased and distributed palliatives in two phases across the 23 local government areas.

‘’However, new guidelines were included for CACOVID distribution at ward level to help ensure a fair spread and ease the movement of beneficiaries to pick the items.

“The items are bulky and it’s easier and cheaper for them to pick up at the ward level rather than centralized locations in the local government areas,’’ she said.

According to the Acting Governor, ‘’arrangements for distributing the items had been concluded, such that each beneficiary knew where they would be receiving their items as supervised by ward committees who in many instances do not personally know the beneficiaries.’’

Dr Balarabe argued that these elaborate arrangements were to ensure a transparent exercise in handling CACOVID donations is part of the government’s duty of political responsiveness.

‘’Mob action cannot replace the methodical steps taken to identify these persons and arrange for them to safely receive the items,’’ she said.

The Acting Governor condemned the looting of the food items, arguing that there can be no other word but theft to describe it.

Dr Balarabe further pointed out that the looted items were kindly provided to all the 36 states by the generosity of a private-sector coalition.

The Acting Governor, however, commended the vast majority of the people of Kaduna State for being law-abiding and for not allowing criminal actions in their communities.

‘’We regret the inconvenience that this statewide curfew might have caused for such persons. The curfew is a difficult but necessary step for containing the violence and preventing it from infecting peaceful communities,’’ she argued.

Dr Balarabe assured that government ‘’ will keep reviewing the security situation while doing our utmost to protect citizens and their property.’’

‘’I appeal to all residents to comply with the curfew and help us accelerate a return to the normalcy that decent citizens deserve,’’ she advised.

The Acting Governor said that she and other senior government officials have inspected many of the locations where criminal actions of looting and vandalisation occurred.

‘’We have met community leaders and made it clear that what happened yesterday will not be tolerated. There can be no excuses for the crimes we have witnessed,’’ she said.

According to Balarabe, ‘’the state is obliged to find and prosecute those involved in the criminal actions that unfolded yesterday.’’

‘’Those who instigated these actions and who sadly persist in incitement should also expect to hear from the law,’’ she vowed.

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