When the wave of COVID-19 pandemic hit Abuja, crossing through Kaduna and Katsina states, the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje had designed a three-point agenda of preventive, curative and palliative measures.
The palliative agenda, according to governor Ganduje, was to cushion the effects of lockdown imposed on the state by alleviating the suffering of the impoverished downtrodden during the period.
With the imposition of total lockdown on Kano state immediately after the index case was recorded on April 11, markets, places of worships, schools, motor parks among others were shut down, bringing commercial activities of the state to a standstill.
The state government targetted 300,000 households in the state with an official population of 9.4 million people according to the 2006 headcount.
Whilst some people commended the government for bringing succour to the people for targetting 300,000 households, others viewed the state government effort not enough due to the number of targeted beneficiaries which is grossly insignificant to make an appreciable impact.
According to some residents, despite the government’s claims of limited resources at its disposal and the drastic fall in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), which was reduced by 2/3 monthly, the government can do better by increasing the number of beneficiaries significantly in view of the population of the state.
In an interview with PLATINUM POST, Sani Wele, a school teacher described the palliative distribution as insignificant, owing to the fact that the population of Kano deserved more than 1 million households if the government is serious about fighting poverty in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, “the best way to successfully fight this virus is to keep people indoors to break the chain of transmission. However, how do you keep people at home without supporting them with some palliative? but, the number of beneficiaries for this palliative is too small for the population of over 10 million people.
” The government should have targeted at least 1.5 million households, this is when its agenda would pay off.
“To me, 300,000 households are insignificant. Let me tell you that I am yet to see a person who benefitted from this palliative. In fact, I am yet to see a person who has seen one of the beneficiaries,” Wele said
Another Kano resident, Hajiya Binta Gambo also criticized the decision of the state government to distribute palliative to 300,000 households only.
According to her, the government has the economic wherewithal to support almost entire people of Kano state if it wants to achieve its response to coronavirus, noting that distributing relief items to what she described as a tiny number of people could make the commitment have less impact.
“People were ordered to sit at home. No business, no schools, nothing. The government then decided to support us. We were happy that we would get support, but to our dismay, the relief is insignificant.
” I, therefore, called on government, since the lockdown has been removed and activities have started returning, to increase the number of the beneficiaries to at least 1 million households. This is when we would notice its impact,” Mr Gambo said.
On the other hand, one of the beneficiaries in Tarauni Local Government area, A’i Muhammad expressed happiness for being able to benefit from what she described as “humanitarian gesture”.
According to her, ” I have four orphans left to me by my husband. I have nothing to do to earn a living and it was the Ramadan season. These items have really reduced my suffering. My worry has been reduced a lot,” she said.
Another beneficiary in Hotoron Gabas, Mallam Mansir Yahaya thanked the government for coming to his aid.
He noted that the lockdown order imposed on Kano, especially when it coincided with the month of Ramadan, had inflicted hardship on the residents before the government commenced distribution of the palliative.
He said the relief items donated by the government would go a long way in reducing the hardship of the COVID-19 lockdown on the residence.
PLATINUM POST reports that, at the height of COVID-19 outbreak in Kano, Governor Ganduje constituted a committee, named Kano State COVID-19 Fund Raising Committee, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University Kano (BUK), Prof. Yahuza Bello to spearhead the distribution agenda.
The composition of the committee includes civil servants, members of the Kano Executive Council, academics, representatives of labour unions, Nigeria Union of Journalists, business communities, among others.
The committee, among other things, according to a statement by the Ganduje’s spokesman, Abba Anwar, was to source funds and materials from corporate organizations and good spirited individuals for distribution to the poorest of the poor in the state.
The committee, according to the state Commissioner of Information, Comrade Muhammad Garba, has so far raised funds running into over N600 million, adding that it has also targeted 300,000 households of poorest of the poor across the 44 Local Government Areas of the state for the distribution of the palliative.
“So far, this committee has raised over N600 million. This money is being raised from the donation from well-meaning individuals and organizations.
” This is in addition to relief materials being donated to the state government which actually supported the government’s palliative agenda in the fight against COVID-19,” Garba said.
Even at that, according to Garba, the Ganduje administration also pumped in over N280 million to help the committee carry out its assignment with ease.
During the inauguration of the committee in May the chairman of the committee, Prof. Yahuza Bello explained that the arrangement was that the items would be given to 4 households in each of the over 11, 000 polling units of the 484 wards in the state.
“This palliative is going to be distributed to 300,000 households of poorest of the poor. We are going to use the polling units for the distribution. As you all know, we have 11,000 polling units in 484 wards across the state.
” In each polling unit, 4 households of the poorest of the poor would get the relief items, aimed at cushioning the effects of the lockdown,” he said.
Prof. Yahuza also hinted that apart from the donation of relief materials which the committee was been able to source from well-meaning citizens, the state government also decided to include the 139 trucks of grains donated to the state by the Federal Government in the items to distribute to the beneficiaries.
He said, the committee, after a careful arrangement, decided to make the distribution of the relief materials in batches of 50,000 households until it meets the 300,000 targets.
During the flag-off of the scheme, the chairman of the committee, in his speech said items to be distributed include a bag of 25kg of rice, a carton of spaghetti, macaroni, dawavita four litres of oil each, semovita, pasta, indomie and a cash gift of N2,000.
The first batch of 50,000 households received their share of the palliative, which after the scheme was flagged off by Governor Ganduje.
PLATINUM POST reports that the state government has so far distributed the palliative to 100,000 households in two batches, as efforts are underway to continue with the scheme until it reaches the targeted 300,000 households.
Also, the state government has continued to receive donations in cash and in-kind from organizations and individuals in the state.
Speaking during the routine press briefing on COVID-19, held at the government house on Tuesday, the Commissioner Information, Muhammad Garba who is the spokesman of the committee, said plans have been completed for the commencement of the distribution for the third batch.
This accountability report is supported by CHRICED & MacArthur foundation