Abuja, April 6, 2020 The Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ) has condemned the Lagos state government for its lockdown palliative approach to tackling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Mr Israel Bolaji, the Vice President (Information and Strategy) of the Guild said this in a statement he issued on Monday.
Bolaji said the state adopted a weak and defective approach in handling lockdown palliative measures especially the emergency food pack distribution, despite performing well in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
He said that although the state government’s efforts at curtailing the pandemic are commendable, its palliative measures are disgraceful, poor and ineffective.
“This lapse has resulted in widespread condemnation from residents of the state, CDA representatives and the general public who received the beggarly and pitiful portions of foodstuff during the distribution.
He said that Lagos State government came up with an apt idea of providing food especially for aged parents, widows, widowers and less privileged households with an emergency food pack.
However, the selective distribution approach shrouded in mystery, beggarly food pack quantities, lack of transparency and alleged large scale diversion of the food packs by officials make a mess and mockery of the entire process.
“The guild was shocked and appalled by the various reports and the attendant disillusionment generated.
“NGIJ has been inundated with reports, viral video accounts and verified cases of residents receiving pitiful food packs, including multiple videotaped cases of two sachets of tomatoes, two bowls of rice and beans given to an entire street’’.
He said there are embarrassing accounts from Ijede communities under Ikorodu constituency made up of 127 CDA, where each of the CDAs were asked to compile lists of names of aged parents, widows, the less privileged and widowers with at least 40 in some and some between 50 and 80 names submitted since last week Sunday.
“Surprisingly on Saturday only five packs were handed out for 80 persons in a CDA, said one of the CDA representative.
“At Agege where 40 names were forwarded, they gave 5packs for 40 persons. I do not know what is going on because personally, the government is not fair to us.
“If they want the emergency food to go around I believe religious bodies, stakeholders and Royal fathers should be part of the programme”, said another source.
“Many of the CDAs here did not get anything at all”, a source said, adding that the local government chairman kept the food packs for sharing to their members later.
The Guild, therefore, charged the government to be more sensitive to the people’s welfare, considering that the lockdown had crippled the economic activities as well as the source of livelihood for many residents.
“As much as the government may not choose to share food packs to all residents, a basic threshold is at least expected to be met.
“Giving 5 units of very small food pack to an entire street of about 2000 people amounts to reckless insensitivity, humiliation and travesty’’.
Bolaji urged the state government to urgently rejig the entire plan, make sufficient units available, work with trusted social and community leaders, block leakages and reverse the deplorable trend.
“We also urge the government to be transparent in handling the disbursement of the various donations from well-meaning Nigerians, philanthropists and multinationals that have donated handsomely to cushion the impact of the crises”.