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Lockdown: When palliatives don’t reach proletariat

CCT outclasses Covid-19 relief disbursements It will reach all states – Ministry Despite a presidential directive that palliatives should be given to citizens to cushion…

  • CCT outclasses Covid-19 relief disbursements

  • It will reach all states – Ministry

Despite a presidential directive that palliatives should be given to citizens to cushion the effects of the coronavirus lockdown, many across the country say nothing has got to them, and the existing Conditional Cash Transfer of the Social Investment Programme appears to have outshone the much-anticipated relief disbursements.

 

Besides the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos, and Ogun states where the lockdown order from President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in force, several other states have imposed movement restrictions since late March 2020 to contain the spread of the virus.

Many residents of the affected states said though the president had declared the provision of palliatives to be implemented by the Minister Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, they were yet to get them.

In the FCT, the Minister of State, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, flagged-off the distribution of palliative materials in the six area councils late last week.

She said at the flag-off that the first batch of the materials would commence in Abaji Area Council. She disclosed that a truckload of 25,000 condiments and 25,000 bags of rice would be taken to Abaji for onward distribution to vulnerable members of the community, just as she appealed to residents to support the government to ensure success of the exercise.

“The process is set and we are ready to go. Thank you very much for believing in us by ensuring that the distribution of the palliative items would be done transparently to all the vulnerable people the scheme is targeted,” she said.

But residents say they expected that before the initial two weeks lockdown elapsed, the FCT Administration ought to have commenced the distribution of palliatives.

A resident of Kuje, Emmanuel Sarki, said it was unfortunate that the government which ought to have considered the hardship people were facing, abandoned them at the most critical time.

The distribution of palliatives has not commenced in Nyanya, Karu and Jikwoyi which have a high number of vulnerable people, Daily Trust gathered. Community leaders who spoke to our reporter said they were yet to see any palliative items.

Moses Andrew, a phone repairer in Kabusa, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), said he hadn’t got anything from the government, adding that he was forced to reopen his shop due to hunger.

“I closed the shop for two days during the initial lockdown but when I could not feed, I had to open it,” he said.

Some however confirmed receipt of conditional cash transfers which was in effect before the coronavirus lockdown. Hajara Musa said she received N20,000 and it came in handy to help solve some problems. Hajara said she had been benefitting for over a year, but the recent payment had the most impact.

“The last payment was a big relief considering the hardship from the coronavirus lockdown,” she said.

A widow in Kwali Area Council, Mrs. Rebecca Biko, used the N20,000 she got last week to restock her petty shop with foodstuff to sell. She is left with four children to cater for.

“The only support that we are yet to get from the federal government is the coronavirus palliatives which up till now people have not received anything but I got the house-hold conditional cash transfer. Majority of women here in Kwali have benefited from it,” she said.

Jummai Elisha, a resident of Kuje, said she also  got N20, 000.

Residents of Osun State also complained in similar direction, saying they did not have money to buy food, as they were unable to work to make money because of the lockdown.

Michael James, an artisan in Osogbo, said, “We have not worked for two weeks and I’m very broke. They allowed us to come out only today and tomorrow but I cannot make enough money in two days to take me for another two weeks.”

Mama Kola, a trader, said the lockdown had brought untold hardship, and she did not get  any palliative from either state or federal government.

 

Conditional Cash Transfer takes shine off coronavirus palliatives

Findings from across the states indicate that the core palliative of the federal government being received so far is the Conditional Cash Transfer which was in existence before the emergence of coronavirus.

Many citizens were benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfer programme before coronavirus emerged, and this appears to be rescuing them as others wait for the coronavirus special palliative to arrive.

In Kano, Malama Hansai Amadu, a 40-year-old beneficiary at Garun Malam LGA, who was paid N20,000 recently, said she would use the money to buy food items for her family as the fasting period approaches.

Malam  Ahmad Maiwada in Makoda LGA said the money couldn’t have come at a better time as he would use it to buy food to sustain his family members for a while.

In Kaduna, 16,744 poor households received N20,000 each between April 7 and April 15 across eight LGAs while beneficiaries in one LGA are yet to receive it, according to the Head of the Cash Transfer Unit, Hauwa Abdulrazaq.

She said the exercise would be concluded on April 21, with the disbursement of N112.8 million to 5,636 vulnerable households in Birnin Gwari council while more vulnerable households would be captured in the Social Register.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs takes delivery of grains for distribution

‘We’ve not received FG’s palliatives’

Officials of some state governments with cases of COVID-19 told our correspondents that they were yet to get any palliative from the federal government.

The Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Paul Ohonbamu, said the state had not received anything.

Osas Igiebor, a resident of Benin City, said he was yet to receive any palliative.

“I only heard that they are distributing palliatives and I need it now because the lockdown is not easy,” he said.

The Focal Person, National Social Investment Programme in Edo State, Aladeselu Osayuwanmen, no palliative had reached them.

The case is the same in Rivers State where Governor Nyesom Wike had repeatedly said the state had not got any palliative from the federal government.

He said: “While Lagos State received a grant of N10 billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a great percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the federal government.”

The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, also told Daily Trust on Sunday that the state was yet to receive any form of assistance from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

And in Ondo State government, the Commissioner for Information, Donald Ojogo, said nothing had come to the state in that regard even as it has three confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has flagged off the distribution of state palliatives to the poor and vulnerable. He recently presented food items to the poor at the Government House.

The chairman of the Palliative Committee, Akin Olotu, said the committee was targeting 70,000 indigent persons in the first phase of the programme.

The Akwa Ibom State government also says it has not also received any palliative from the federal government. The Commissioner for Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, said, “I want to assure you we are doing our best with the money available. The federal government has not done anything for us in this fight since it started.” But state government is distributing relief materials to citizens. The disbursement committee said each LGA had distributed food items like rice, garri and flour directly to villages.

But Nkoyo Friday in Ikot Nya in Nsit Ibom LGA said although the palliatives were shared in her village, she did not get any.

“A little quantity of rice and garri from Hon. Onofiok Luke and the state government was shared but only to members of the PDP, while some young men were given N500 each. But I did not get any of those things,” she said.

In Enugu State, residents say they are yet to receive any palliative from the federal government.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chidi Nnanyelugo Aroh said, “You can verify from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs if any palliative has been given to Enugu State.”

In the FCT, beneficiaries confirmed they were paid N20,000 by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs but no other palliative has come their way.

In Nasarawa State, residents of six LGAs have benefitted from the CCT. Governor Abdullahi Sule who recently received the National Coordinator of the CCT programme, Dr Tope Sinkaye said 48,000 people were benefiting in the state.

“The payment is to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the president has directed that two cycles which is four months payment be made to the beneficiaries.”

In Wamba LGA, Ibrahim Makpa, 50, and Hauwa Musa Maradi, a 60 year old woman said she benefitted, as they received N10,000 each.

The chairman of Lafia Local Government, Aminu Maifata, said arrangements had been made for the distribution of the support fund to the beneficiaries in his jurisdiction.

The nine LGAs in Benue State have benefited from the CCT. Governor Samuel Ortom confirmed this, saying, “The state has not been an exception of the palliative measures. Already, we have it here in terms of cash transfer and many others and those profiled are benefitting.”

Two beneficiaries of the CCT at Lessel in Ushongo LGA said they collected N20, 000 each recently and the amount was for four months.

Vangeryina Tyôlaha, aged 70 said, “I collected the money President Muhammadu Buhari sent to us a few days ago. This is not the first time I will be collecting this money. I thank the president because the money helps me to take care of my family.”

Gbakôron Iorchir also confirmed receiving it, saying it was helping to cushion her pains.

Ejeh Silas, a resident of Otukpo, however said he had not received it. “I’m very poor and can’t even feed myself but I have not got anything to cushion the effect of the present hardship occasioned by coronavirus.”

In Kaduna, the nine LGAs got theirs. The Focal Person on SIP in the state, Mrs. Saude Atoyebi, said the payment was for four months.

The state government is also distributing N500 million worth of food items to beneficiaries in eight pilot LGAs through a seven-man team in each of the 255 wards. While some of these have been distributed, many creates of eggs are rotting away at the state government’s storage at the Hassan Katsina House, Kawo, while bags of rice and semovita as well as cartons of noodles, vegetable oil, spaghetti, detergent are continuously being heaped to the ceiling.

A beneficiary of the state government’s palliatives, Maman Mary said: “Government should device a better sharing formula so that people don’t get injured when such palliatives are shared.’

In Kano state, Dr Sinkaiye said N1.6bn of the CCT would be shared to 84, 000 beneficiaries across 15 LGAs of the state. The beneficiaries got N20,000 each but it fell short of the expectations of many residents.

While many believed the stipends would be shared among every member of the society as part of government’s efforts to ease the economic hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic, many didn’t receive anything. But Sinkaiye clarified that beneficiaries were drawn from existing register as they were already enrolled.

Malam Uba Mado a resident of Garun Malam LGA which is one of the benefiting LGAs, said he didn’t receive it and the federal government had contradicted issues by making people believe the cash was for everyone.

The Chief Press Secretary to Kano State Governor, Abba Anwar said Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had raised over N400 million donations through a 37-member fund raising committee on COVID-19 headed by Professor Yahuza Bello, the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University Kano (BUK). He said the committee would give N20,000  to over 300,000 indigent families from the fund.

While Katsina state government said it awaits relief items from the federal government, the CCT has been largely successful.

The Commissioner for Information and chairman of the state’s enlightenment committee on COVID-19, Abdulkarim Sirika, said he was not aware of any other palliative.

Under the SIP, the coordinating office in the state said about 130,000 households had received N20,000 amounting to about N2.6bn.

In Oyo State, the CCT under the supervision of the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Faosat Sanni, was confirmed in three LGAs but with no other palliative was in process. Some residents of Ona Ara LGA protested over the CCT as they were not among the beneficiaries. In Osun State, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ismail Omipidan confirmed that 15, 000 citizens would benefit from the CCT scheme. He said the federal government had approved the payment of cumulative four-month stipends of N20,000 to 15,562 beneficiaries across the State.

The CCT has reached over 19,700 people in Niger state, officials said. Some of the beneficiaries who are aged women were issued cheques last week. But there is no record of any other relief item from the federal government in the state.

Bags of rice and rotting creates of egg at the state government’s storge area at the Hassan Katsina House. Photo by Maryam Ahmadu-Suka.

States that got palliative relief items

Some states confirmed receipt of the federal government’s palliatives in the form of relief items.

They include Lagos State which last week got 6,000 bags of rice (50kg) and two trucks of 20 litres of vegetable oil for distribution to the poor and most vulnerable persons.

The items which were at the warehouse of the Nigeria Customs Service in Ikeja were handed over by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiyya Farouk.

The state government had earlier rolled out a welfare package for indigent and vulnerable segment of the society during the first set of stay-at-home directive.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said: “In the first and second phase of the programme, we were able to reach over 200,000 households which include the vulnerable, physically challenged and the elderly.”

Ogun State received 23 trucks of relief materials from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. Some of the trucks carrying rice, garri and millet arrived Abeokuta on Tuesday.

The Special Adviser to the Governor (Public Communications), Remmy Hassan said the state received five trucks of rice, eight trucks of garri amounting to about 8,000 bags and 10 trucks of millet. The state said it has distributed the relief items to about 300,000 vulnerable persons. However, Ogun has not benefitted from the cash transfer which officials said was due to lack of a database of the poor and vulnerable households in the state. The Minister had told Governor Dapo Abiodun that Ogun would be captured from May after completion of the registration process.

Two residents of Ilugun in Abeokuta North LGA, Ibrahim Oladele and Omosalewa Olubi said they did not get the package. “We only heard in the news that the government had rolled out relief materials, but we have not benefitted,” Oladele said.

Olubi, a petty trader, said the hardship during the lockdown was worsening.

“We are begging government to allow us benefit from the relief materials. A lot of us are hungry,” he said.

Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi recently said three truckload of rice bags and groundnut oil from the federal government were on its way to the state as palliatives. He also said the state had released N1.5bn to cushion the effect of the lockdown.

In Imo, the palliative items were delivered by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs. Hundreds of bags of rice and other items were off-loaded at the Imo State International Conference Centre (IICC) Owerri, before they were distributed to the 27 LGAs.

A beneficiary in Owerri, Mama Felicia, said she got a quarter bag of rice at the Owerri West LGA headquarters. However, our correspondent couldn’t identify any beneficiary of the cash transfer scheme.

 

No records of palliative beneficiaries – ACCI, MAN

Apart from individuals, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) and even large-scale industries have been hit by the spread of COVID-19.

Fiscal and monetary authorities had rolled out schemes to cushion the effects. The federal government announced a fiscal stimulus package of N500 billion to support healthcare facilities, provide relief for taxpayers, and incentivize employers to retain and recruit staff during the downturn.

It also introduced import duty waivers for pharmaceutical firms, and reduction in regulated fuel prices.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reduced interest rates on interventions from nine to five percent and a year’s moratorium on such facilities. It also created N50 billion credit facility for struggling businesses during the period, injected 3.6 trillion into the banking system, including N100 billion to support the health sector, N2tr for manufacturing sector, and N1.5tr on to the real sector, among other measures.

However, our enquiries from many manufacturers, industrialists and their associations show they are yet to access the palliatives.

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) separately said they were not clear yet on the disbursement of the intervention funds and business owners who may benefit.

The Director General of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Mrs Victoria Akai, said the chamber had launched a survey across the FCT to determine those who may have accessed the funds.

She faulted the disbursement processes in place at the moment and recommended a private sector-driven framework for effective disbursement to the right businesses.

The president of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, recently said MAN was yet to receive the template for the disbursement of the some palliatives, especially the N50bn CBN credit. Ahmed said he was unaware of any of his members who may have accessed the facility.

 

We’re trying to reach every state, more people – Ministry

Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, responding to our enquiries, said, “The ministry has mapped out a plan for delivering palliatives to all the states. Recall that Payment Service Providers who deliver cash to beneficiaries have failed. Akwa Ibom and other states are affected by that failure. A process is on to engage other payment service providers to ensure that all CCT beneficiaries are paid before or on April 28, 2020.”

On the distribution process of the palliatives across the benefiting states, he said, “Our major advice to them is that they should give priority to the poor, the vulnerable and people of concern, such as those living with disabilities, people in IDP camps and the like. But the ministry is partnering with CSOs and using our staff in the field to monitor the distribution by the states. We have already done that in Imo State.”

Providing further updates on distribution of relief items, Dambatta said, so far Lagos, Imo, Ogun and Ebonyi states have received their allocations of rice, vegetable oil or tomato paste.

“The next states the ministry is working with the customs to deliver rice to are, Zamfara, Katsina and Kano.”

He said the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is to release 158 trucks of rice to the ministry for distribution as palliatives. The rice is released in batches across various storage centres.

“So far, 40 trucks of rice were released from Lagos and five trucks from Onne Port. The NCS has released 30 trucks of vegetable oil, out of which two went for Lagos and one to Ogun. Ebonyi and Imo states were allocated a truck of tomato paste each.”

 

Contributions from Ojoma Akor, Francis Arinze Iloani, Simon Echewofun Sunday, Victoria Onehi, Terkula Igidi, Taiwo Adeniyi, Abubakar Sadiq Isah, & Mohammed Auwal Umar (Abuja), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Tony Adibe (Enugu), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Habibu Umar Aminu (Katsina), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Christiana T. Alabi (Lagos), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad (Lafia), Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri), Victor Sorokwu (Asaba), Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki) and Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna)

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