With the programme rolled out by the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19, it is expected that millions of vulnerable Nigerians across the country will receive the palliatives which they could not get during the exercise carried out by the federal and state governments
By Anayo Ezugwu
AS vulnerable Nigerians battle Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the face of extreme hunger and poverty, the private sector in the country has moved in to bring succour to 10 million of them. The private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, has flagged off a nationwide distribution of multi-billion naira food palliative and other relief items.
Zouera Youssoufou, CACOVID’s administrator and chief executive officer, Aliko Dangote Foundation, said the private sector would be spending over N23 billion on relief materials. She said relief materials would cover 1.7 million families and about 10 million Nigerians across the 774 local government areas in the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The CACOVID palliative is coming after the federal government failed to reach vulnerable Nigerians in its COVID-19 palliatives that lasted for three months. The distributions of the federal government palliatives were marred by controversies with many Nigerians expressing dissatisfaction over the parameter adopted for the distribution.
For instance, Sadiya Umar Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, announced in April that Nigerians, who recharge their mobile phones with more than N100, and have more than N5,000 bank balance are ineligible to benefit from the palliatives. She also announced the continuation of the School Feeding Programme during the lockdown across the country.
Unlike the federal government, the CACOVID has promised to reach more Nigerians, who are in need of support to mitigate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Youssoufou explained that the food distribution is the next phase in the line of actions mapped out by the coalition to partner government in the fight against the pandemic and relieve the vulnerable people of the burden posed by the outbreak of the disease.
She said the coalition had divided the country into six geo-political zones, adding that the distribution was being flagged off simultaneously in states such as Adamawa, Yobe, Ekiti Ogun, Delta, Edo, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, and Nasarawa.
“The state governors and FCT minister, through the State Implementation Committee, will appoint a coordinator to diligently record and send an accurate and complete copy of the inventory tracker and goods delivery notes to the CACOVID Operations Centre daily through the State CACOVID Representative to ensure timely and efficient delivery and proper transparency and accountability.
“The Food Relief Programme is being managed by the CACOVID Operations Centre in Lagos and we have procured the various food items from leading Nigerian fast-moving consumer goods, FMCG, companies to achieve the necessary scale, speed and quality assurance at carefully negotiated prices that reflect value for money without creating negative market distortions. Each pack or box is clearly identified and marked as ‘Not for Sale’.
“CACOVID has laid out an elaborate plan and will be distributing the relief packages to the target beneficiaries across all 774 local government areas in Nigeria with the state governors and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as champions of this initiative in each state,” she said.
The offer of food palliatives is in addition to donations by CACOVID, of medical equipment in some instances to state governments to strengthen their response capacity and outright building of isolation facilities in about 38 centres in the country for which the coalition had spent about N15 billion to help ease off the pressure on the states and federal governments in their responses to the pandemic.
CACOVID has also helped to reinforce the testing capacity of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, with the donation of over 300,000 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs. The coalition will also soon commence the third and final phase of its COVID-19 response plan. The coalition will also be working closely with state governments through the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, to ensure all targeted families are reached and that it is done transparently.
Explaining the strategy being adopted for the distribution, Osayi Alile, CEO, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, who is also CACOVID Operations Implementation Committee member, said the coalition was not political party biased, but discharging its mandates to all Nigerians as laid out in the CACOVID objectives and goals.
“The state government, through the State Implementation Committee will organise for representatives of all the state local government areas, LGAs, to collect the allocations for each LGA and oversee the redistribution to each ward and onto each eligible beneficiary at the grassroots subsequently based on an agreed distribution schedule,” she said.
On her part, Fanan Nduur, team lead and representative of CACOVID, said the coalition boosted the NCDC’s capacity with the donation of over 100,000 test kits. “It is common knowledge that cases of the virus have been widely reported across Nigeria. There is high risk of the virus spreading through much of the population, as has been witnessed in other countries globally with the attendant socio-economic and healthcare disruptions.
“lf we do not come together to fight for our nation, no one will. Today, the fight for survival has become a necessity and it is not just the government’s responsibility, but our collective responsibility and we all must join the fight to stay alive,” she said.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State has also commended the organised private sector for the strategic roles they played in the campaign against COVID-19 pandemic across the country. He gave the commendation at the inauguration of the distribution of food palliatives donated by the CACOVID in Ilorin.
He expressed appreciation for the efforts of CACOVID in the fight against COVID-19 in the state. The governor explained that the CACOVID had earlier visited the isolation centre where they made donations of medical supplies and other medical consumables.
On his part, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State commended CACOVID and other philanthropists for their humanitarian gesture aimed at assisting the less-privileged and vulnerable groups in the society during the pandemic. He said the items would be distributed to the poor and most vulnerable across the 1,495 polling units in the state, who have no source of income to cater for their daily needs.
Sule, however, said those salary earners, businessmen, and other privileged people were exempted. He recalled that Nasarawa State Government in its commitment to cushioning the plight of its people during the COVID-19 lockdown period procured and distributed 12 trucks of rice across the 13 Local Government Areas of the State.
The coalition was created by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector-led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank, to help the country combat the COVID-19 crisis.
The objectives of the coalition are to mobilise private sector thought leadership; mobilise private sector resources; increase general public awareness, education, and buy-in; provide direct support to private and public healthcare’s ability to respond to the crisis and support government effort.
Godwin Emefiele, Governor, CBN, said during the inauguration of the coalition in March that “the need for all Nigerians to play a role in this fight cannot be understated as we are quite literally in the fight of our lives. I must highlight the fact that this is not just about bringing money. Your time, your services, your products will all be helpful.”
– Aug. 14, 2020 @ 18.35 GMT |