Nigeria’s Private Sector led Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, yesterday formally announced the flag-off of a nationwide distribution of multi-billion naira food palliative and other relief items to vulnerable Nigerians.

Most of the looted palliatives in warehouses across the nation were awaiting distribution to over 2 million vulnerable households, the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID (CACOVID) has explained.

In a statement on Monday night, CACOVID said: “The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner”.

CACOVID maintained: “The very large size of the order, and the production cycle required to meet the demand, caused delays in delivering the food items to the States in an expeditious manner; hence the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the State Governors”.

For instance, “rice had to be milled, semolina and maize flour had to be processed, noodles and pasta had to be manufactured, and sugar had to be refined. As such, the first deliveries could not start until June,” the group said.

CACOVID however assured “as of October 2020, a sizable portion of the items had been delivered but yet to be distributed by the Governors”.

While many States and the FCT had commenced flag-off of the distribution of the food items since early August 2020, CACOVID noted some states “could not conclude the distribution as they were yet to receive complete deliveries of the items allotted to them”.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, CACOVID said it will provide the full delivery schedule and flag-off dates by each state.

Given the States and Local Government authorities oversee all relief efforts in their jurisdictions and know their citizens best, CACOVID stated it “had worked with each Governor and the Minister of the FCT, utilising a combination of our protocols and their existing structures and processes to ensure food items reach the intended beneficiaries”.

In addition the coalition “appointed an independent monitoring team to ensure that the items would be delivered as intended”.

CACOVID said it is “aware that official flag-off and handover of the palliatives has taken place in 28 States and the FCT, and State governments have been distributing at various paces.

“As of today, October 26, 2020, some States have confirmed completion of their distribution while others were in the process of proceeding with the distribution before these looting took place”.

It was revealed that KPMG Professional Services, the group’s external auditors “are at the verge of completing the audit of all contributions from our donors; as well as a listing of all medical and food items procured with these funds”.

Details of audit report, the statement said, will be shared showing spending, “alongside full report of CACOVID activities, including delivery and planned flag-off dates of our donations to Nigerians”.

The coalition appealed “for calm, and for States to be allowed to proceed with their palliatives distribution peacefully, and urged all to be law-abiding, to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and to end the raiding of these warehouses.”

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