An association of Nigeria’s powerful state governors has denied hoarding food items donated as palliatives by the private-sector-led group Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
As the COVID-19 coronavirus swept across Nigeria in the early months of the year, the coalition which was spearheaded by the non-profit Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation raised billions of naira from companies and individuals to cushion the effects of the rampaging pandemic on ordinary citizens.
Some of the funds were reportedly used to purchase large quantities of food items which were then handed over to state governors and stored in warehouses across the country.
As the #ENDSARS protests degenerated into a looting spree, some of the warehouses were attacked and the food items were carted away by angry citizens who believed that their governors had hidden the food items meant for palliatives.
The Nigeria Governors Forum has now denied that state governors acted in bad faith. In a statement released by the forum and seen by Lagos Times newspaper, the state governors denied accusations that 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” which was signed by the NGF’s spokesperson Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, read: “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.”