CACOVID Defend State Governments Accused Of Hoarding Palliatives 

Newly commissioned Isolation Facility Yaba II by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, donated by CACOVID, on Sunday, June 28, 2020.

Richard Ginika Izuora

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector-led organization established to assist the government in combating the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, has absolved state governments of allegations of hoarding COVID-19!palliatives.

This was disclosed in separate documents released by two members of the coalition to the media on Monday in Abuja.

The documents, circulated by Mr Osita Nwasinobi and Dr Sola Adeduntan, called for calm among members of the public. Nwasinobi disclosed that the coalition had been working with the minister of the FCT and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), to procure and distribute food items to Nigerians.

He said that they were working to distribute the food items for about two million; mostly vulnerable families across the 774 local government areas in the country. Further, he disclosed that CACOVID members decided to procure the food directly from the manufacturers; adding that the move was in order to avoid a distortion of prices in the market.

In a statement Nwasinobi said: “The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country.

“This compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner; with states classified in three timed phases, to enable orderly delivery to the needy”.

“The food package was designed such that each of the nearly two million vulnerable families received 10kg bag of rice; five-kilogram bag of garri/maize flour/semolina; one carton of pasta; two cartons of noodles; five kilograms of sugar and one kilogram of salt.”

He added that due to the large size of the order and the production cycle required to meet the demand; there was delay in delivering the food items and thus delays in distribution by state governments

“For instance, rice had to be milled, semolina and maize flour had to be processed; noodles and pasta had to be manufactured, and sugar had to be refined. As such, the first deliveries could not start until June.

“However, as at October 2020, a sizable portion of the items had been delivered. But yet to be distributed by the governors,” Nwasinobi said.

He said that while 28 states and the FCT had commenced distribution since early August; some could not as they were yet to receive complete deliveries of the items allotted to them. He stated that this led to some state governments distributing the items at various paces.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, he pledged that CACOVID would, in due course; provide the full delivery schedule and flag-off dates by each state, stressing that KPMG Professional Services and NGF external auditors were also on the verge of completing the audit of all contributions from the donors; including a full list of all medical and food items procured with the CACOVID funds before the warehouses were attacked.

“It is very unfortunate that various states, including states that have concluded the distribution of their allocations; are seeing their warehouses and other premises being raided.”

Nwasinobi called for calm to allow states to proceed with their palliatives distribution peacefully. Also, he urged the public to disregard any unauthorized sources of information regarding the procurement and distribution of the palliatives.

On his part, Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer of First Bank PLC, in a letter addressed to “Sigma Chief, Old Chiefs and Loyalists” urged members to be wary of information on social media. He stated that CACOVID had successfully provided health facilities, diagnostic kits and medications to all the states; as well as the FCT.

The First Bank CEO said that CACCOVID also decided to provide food to 1.7 million mostly vulnerable families across the country.

However, he stated that the challenge was how to purchase those items worth about N15 billion without driving inflation.

“We had to contract this out to various manufacturers and that took time for them to deliver the goods to us. It was only in September and early October that we handed the goods over to the various state governments and FCT.

“It is therefore a fallacy that the state governments or Dangote have hoarded those foodstuffs,” he explained.

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