Ogun State Government has reiterated that the target of the distribution of its COVID-19 relief food items were the poor and vulnerable, hence its insistence on direct distribution to the intended beneficiaries.
In a statement on Sunday in Abeokuta, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Kunle Somorin stated that the government’s attention has been drawn to some video clips circulating on the social media purportedly showing some scanty items being distributed to Community Development Councils / Associations for onward distribution to their members.
He said these video clips were not only mischievous but deliberate concoctions and distortions to play dirty politics at a time of a grave global crisis.
He said, for avoidance of doubt, the Ogun State Government relief food pack contained the following seven items: 5kg of rice, 5kg of beans, 5kg of gari, salt, seasoning cubes, 4 Nos. vegetable oil sachets, and 5 Nos. tomato puree sachets, and that the pack was branded with Ogun State Logo for ease of identification, adding that a pack was meant for one household not for a street or CDA.
He stressed that 500,000 poor and vulnerable households were targeted in all, covering an estimated three million poor and vulnerable individuals in the state.
The statement disclosed that the distribution has started with the first batch of 100,000 households across the twenty Local Governments in the state on a ward by ward basis in phases of 250 -300 households per ward.
This phases approach was adopted because of the logistics of supply (at a time everyone is scrambling to buy available food items), repackaging and distribution to all the local governments and subsequently to the intended beneficiaries.
The government reassured the citizens that the distribution was an on-going process and that the items would reach all the mapped beneficiaries in due course, starting with the elderly the poor and vulnerable.
The statement added that the major reason informing the initial total lockdown of the state from Friday till Tuesday morning was to allow the citizens to also go out for a few hours to buy food, earn a bit of a living, ventilate and supplement government’s palliative initiative. “We have NOT locked the state down for 14 days at a stretch”, it stressed.
It further read, “truth is that the state government alone cannot meet the needs of every household in Ogun State”.
The statement said to ensure that the items got to the target beneficiaries, the government set up a broad-based non-partisan committee at each local government level comprising critical stakeholders such as Community Development Councils / Associations, League of Imams and Alfas, Christian Association of Nigeria, Market Women Association, political office holders and top civil servants from the local government, among others.
The committees, chaired by the Local Government Chairmen, were replicated in each of the 236 wards in the state to ensure the materials got to the grassroots.
The tasks of the committees included: determining, identifying and collating the list of actual household beneficiaries (the poor and vulnerable) in each LGA and documenting the beneficiaries, including basic contact information to enable an audit of the process and confirm that the items were not diverted but got to households of the poor and the vulnerable.
The overall goal, according to the release was ensuring fair, equitable and inclusive distribution of the relief materials in an efficient and effective manner.
“The items are not allocations to groups to be distributed as they deem fit. The government is appreciative of the support so far of all stakeholders, including those included in the committees and those not directly mentioned”.
The expectation is that the stakeholders will facilitate the determination and identification of the poor and the vulnerable in the society and forward the names to the committee in their respective local government and wards for the items to be distributed to the beneficiaries. At all times, the focus should be on individual households particularly the poor and the vulnerable.
It further read, “I call on the members of the public to disregard the video clips with thinly veiled mischief, deliberate misinformation and innuendos. Those who want to play politics with everything and in all situations should at least wait until the pandemic is over.
This is the time for all people of goodwill to join hands to defeat a common enemy. Our Administration is irrevocably committed to the welfare of all citizens of Ogun State and will nether be distracted nor deterred by anyone or group”, Governor Dapo Abiodun said.