Nigeria’s 36 governors have denied hoarding the food items donated by the organised private sector to ease the economic hardship imposed on the poor by the COVID-19 lockdown.
A group of Nigerian businesspersons and corporate organizations, which calls itself Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), contributed billions of naira to help the country fight the rampaging coronavirus which has now killed 1,130 citizens and infected 61,992 others.
A part of the contribution was used to build medical facilities and procure equipment and drugs across the states and Abuja.
Another part was then earmarked for the provision of food items to the country’s poor and underprivileged to help lessen the economic suffering triggered by the pandemic.
The food items were delivered to state governments which held them in warehouses as it planned the logistics for their distribution.
Some of those warehouses have now been raided and looted in the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protest called to push for an end to police brutality.
As hoodlums looted the warehouses across the country, some Nigerians accused the governors of hoarding the food items even as millions of citizens starved.
But in a statement sent to newsmen early Monday, the governors deny charges they deliberately delayed the distribution of the items. They also explained why the foodstuffs remained stored until they were looted.
The statement, titled “Governors and the CACOVID Palliatives” was signed by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the head of the media and public affairs unit at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The statement reads, “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have since the EndSARS demonstrations started, held several meetings to address the underlying concerns and members have aligned themselves with the call for justice leading to the setting up of judicial panels in the States of the Federation against Police brutality.
“The NGF regrets the loss of lives and property occasioned by the violent protests that erupted, and calls for calm.
“A lot of the information circulating the social media needs to be fact checked. The NGF pleads with members of the public to desist from spreading rumours which further creates panic and stampede.
“For example, some of the properties stolen and vandalized, include palliatives set aside for vulnerable members of society.
“The NGF reemphasizes and corrects the impression that palliatives found in warehouses that were broken into in Lagos and some other States were kept in storage for members of the society especially our vulnerable citizens.
“The erroneous impression in the public domain that these palliatives were hoarded is not just inaccurate, entirely erroneous and untrue but also mischievous, to say the least.
“For the avoidance of doubt, some of the palliatives had the CACOVID stamp embossed on them, meaning that their source is unambiguous.
“As we know, CACOVID operations are mainly domiciled in Lagos, being the headquarters of most of the public-spirited organisations, corporate bodies and individuals that came together to form the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID.
“Until mid-October, when the NGF had its last meeting, up to ten States had not participated in the flag-off ceremonies for the distribution of palliatives in their States. This was because the items meant for distribution in these states had not been completely received from CACOVID.
“Some other States that still had palliatives in their warehouses chose to keep a strategic reserve ahead of a projected second wave of Covid-19.
“Furthermore, as of a couple of weeks ago, some States were still receiving palliatives from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“The NGF wishes to state categorically that no State has been involved in or has hoarded any palliatives.
“The NGF also assures all contributors to the palliatives that prior to the looting of these ware houses, States had kept full accounts of all the items received and distributed.
“NGF calls on members of the public to check their facts. While we all recognize the need for improved governance, we should be careful not to damage ourselves by pushing the wrong narrative.
“The State Governors are doing their very best under the circumstances to ameliorate the needs of the teeming population
“The Nigeria Governors’ Forum stands for justice, improved governance and a progressive Nigeria.”