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COVID-19 Palliatives: Group accuses FCTA of selective distribution

A CIVIL Society Organisation, SayNoCampaign has accused the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) of selective distribution of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) palliatives to residents, particularly in Gwagwalada Area Council.

The group alleged that a selection pass was issued to selected members of the community, thus depriving the less privileged and physically challenged persons of benefitting from the intervention.

“Issue of concern was the suspicious innovation in the distribution exercise, introduced by the Gwagwalada area council, where it issues a certain ‘selection pass’ that automatically qualifies the holder to receive a share of the palliative items when tendered. While the purpose of this novel idea is unclear, community members did accuse the leadership of the area councils, distribution officials and traditional leaders of hoarding the limited ‘selection pass’ and rewarding their loyalists with them while deliberately shutting out majority of the community members who for no faults of theirs did not get the said pass,” Ezenwa Nwagwu, Co-convener of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), said in a statement released at the weekend in Abuja.

“In fact, we gathered that the pass was shared at night between the hours of 8 and 9:00 pm, on Saturday, a day before the end of the distribution exercise in Gwagwalada. Priority was not given to the vulnerable or less privileged as intended.”

He noted that aside from the discriminatory and opaque method adopted, beneficiaries also defied the COVID-19 social distancing guideline.

Nwagwu had raised questions on why the area council failed to map out a more transparent and fair strategy of distribution.

“Why couldn’t the area council stick to its house to house distribution as exemplified during the flag off a day ago? Why aren’t efforts made to properly identify the most vulnerable and make the delivery to them?” he stated.

However, he expressed concerns that with the strategy employed, the purpose of the palliatives might be defeated if the majority of those who truly needed the palliative were left out.

According to him, some persons had allegedly collected over 10 ‘selection pass’ and shared with their friends and relatives who might not need them.

“We are also demanding that the remaining area councils adhere to the beneficiary lists earlier compiled and if the list is exhausted during distribution, the scope can be expanded, by this we will ensure no vulnerable member of the community is exempted from benefiting from the packages,” he stated.

Nwagwu further advised the appropriate authorities of the two remaining area councils to imbibe the principle of transparency, accountability, and fairness, to meet the expectations of their community members.

He promised to continue with the project monitoring assessment at the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and Bwari to ensure better distribution exercise.

Ramatu Aliyu, the Minister of State for FCT, while reacting to some of the concerns on Channels Television Sunrise Daily, Monday said four local governments have been served with palliatives.

She explained that each of the wards has representatives at the six council areas and the distribution is being coordinated with inputs from the traditional rulers as well as the council chairmen.

Aliyu, however, disclosed that FCT is targeting five persons per household in the FCT.

“So far, the distribution has been okay. The targeted people are getting served. The old, young, vulnerable, widows, and families that have been decided by their own representatives and groups cleared to be beneficiaries of the goods.”

“They have their standards and also must recognise their people ranging from traditional rulers to recognise indigenes, also, the NGOs to recognise the non-indigenes, religious groups such as representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria.”

“We are targeting 25,000 bags of rice and 25,000 bags condiments,” she added.

On 13th April, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the inclusion of an extra 1 million beneficiaries to the social safety net. With the inclusion, the total number of expected beneficiaries increased to 3.6 million.

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