The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has urged President Muhammdu Buhari led federal government to come up with transparent mode of the distribution of the palliatives across the country.
The group also demanded that method of identifying and reaching out to the vulnerable groups in country should be clear and verifiable.
The position of the coalition, comprising of some notable Northern groups, was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday and signed by the CNG spokesman, Suleiman Abdul-Azeez.
The umbrella group of Arewa organisations rejected outright what they described as “incoherent and inconsistent government explanation on the mode of distributing the palliatives which till date, remains unsubstantiated and unverifiable everywhere.
The groups welcomed “federal government’s recommitment to enhancing agriculture to ensure food sufficiency to avert the looming famine that could be more devastating than the COVID-19.
The body demanded immediate procurement and direct distribution of heavily subsidised agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, implement and improved seeds and making ready available and accessible incentives to the farming community.
In addition, the coalition wants the government to “Commit to anticipating and checkmating the possibility of natural disasters like floodings and pest invasion that could potentially hamper massive production enough to feed the nation in any eventuality.
“With the observed inadequacy of the palliative package of the federal government that only targets less than a million out of 200 million Nigerians, CNG insists on an immediate and urgent upward review if the aim of the lockdown is to be achieved.
“The federal government must come up with a transparent mode of the distribution of the palliatives across the country including method of identifying and reaching out to the vulnerable groups.
“CNG categorically rejects the incoherent and inconsistent government explanation on the mode of distributing the palliatives which till date, remains unsubstantiated and unverifiable everywhere.
“To ensure the reduction of widespread poverty and enhance the circulation of money among communities, government should take immediate steps to settle outstanding contract payments due to local contractors who would in compliment government effort in assisting locked down communities.
“The federal government must take immediate steps to ensure availability and accessibility of electricity, water and other health essentials to all communities.
“Government must take steps to ensure the safety of healthcare providers on the front line by adequately equipping them with protective kits and providing good operational environment in addition to incentives for them and their families”, the Arewa groups said.
They also drew the attention of “bodies and individuals to be entrusted with the distribution of palliatives of any kind to be judicious, keeping in mind that posterity will judge them and they would certainly be called to account by and large.”
The group frowned at the focus of the northern governors on demanding for funds from the federation account in the pretext of fighting the spread of the pandemic.
“In this regard, CNG recalls the scandalous controversies that trailed the squander of bailout grants for the settlement of salary arrears by most state governments.
“We urge the federal government not to succumb to the states’ demand for funds for fear that they would not be put to judicious use as with the salary bailouts.
“And if the federal government is disposed to granting the funds to the states, CNG insists on the setting up of a mechanism in the form of committee comprising of credible elders and community leaders in each state to monitor the process of the disbursements and ensuring the judicious use of the funds for the purpose they are meant.
“CNG notes that just like the federal government, the palliatives offered by the state governments are equally inadequate, injudiciously and non transparently distributed and must be reviewed immediately.”
The world today, the coalition added, faces a severe and acute public health emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.
“In previous weeks perhaps it seemed imaginary, but now the world is faced with a daunting reality as the scope of the pandemic becomes evident with massive toll on lives, and about a million confirmed infections.
“Behind these statistics also lie the human costs of the pandemic, from the deaths of friends and family to the physical effects of infection and the mental trauma and fear felt by almost everyone.
“In Nigeria, feelings of panic related to a sense of a government’s lack of control in the face of uncertainty, is amplified by a lack of information or the wrong information, either provided inadvertently or deliberately.
“Though the recorded impact and relative spread remain minimal comparative to other countries, there is a huge amount of misinformation circulating, from fake medical information, to speculation about government
“What is however clear, is that in many measures, Nigeria has one of the worst health systems with a bigger share of the population lacking adequate health facilities, care workers and access to water and electricity which add to the hardship faced by most communities under the current lockdown”, the CNG said.
The coalition observed that the “Nigerian doctors and other healthcare providers on the front line are performing wonderfully in carrying out the key response pillars of surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention, control and case management.
“The general public, notwithstanding obvious limitations, is persevering to comply with the stay at home order of the government in the face of multiple and intersecting challenges.
“While governments, particularly the federal government keeps promising to improve facilities across the country, the health sector remains drastically under equipped, with very few isolation centres and as few testing and treatment kits.
“In spite of the huge sums of money appropriated and enormous donations by corporate bodies, individuals, international friends and global bodies, to date, the claim of disbursements of stimulus packages to poorer communities by government remain unsubstantiated and unverifiable”, the coalition said.
Source: The Street Reporters Newspaper