By Ibraheem Solaudeen.
The Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), a Kwara-based Civil Society Organization notable for its #FollowKwaraMoney initiative, has reacted to moves by the state government to consider palliative measures for vulnerable members of society, following the partial lockdown enforced in the state to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Recall that the State Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi, who doubles as Chairman of the State Technical Committee on COVID-19 had, in a statement on Friday, disclosed plans to “support the poorest of the poor at this critical moment.”
Reacting, ENetSuD, in a letter addressed to the Kwara Deputy Governor commended the government for considering relief measures to cushion the effect of the partial lockdown, which it agreed was made in good faith.
The letter, dated March 28 and jointly signed by its Coordinator, Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef and Secretary, Mr. Mahmud Usman Baba, doled out recommendations to the State COVID-19 Technical Committee on implementation of the proposed palliatives.
See the recommendations below:
1. The measures should be mainly foodstuffs and agricultural items that will serve the purpose of feeding, but not hand-sanitizers or facemasks. This is based on the fact that the lockdown order has already significantly prevented physical contacts of people as they are now unavoidably staying at home, and all households can efficiently practice handwashing with their soap.
2. The measures should only be for Kwara residents in the informal sector who are the most affected by this pandemic-induced lockdown. For instance, Taxi drivers, Okada riders, Keke NAPEP riders, market women, artisans (bricklayers, labourers, etc), just to mention a few, are set of people in this category that can’t likely feed themselves and their family members without accessing their shops and rendering their daily services.
3. The measures should exclude the civil servants in the formal sector since the government has graciously continued to pay their salaries even during the period, which would remove hardship.
4. We are aware that there is no reliable data on the eligible beneficiaries of the proposed exercise. Thus, we are advising the KWSG to work with the artisans, market and community associations to altruistically identify their members with a genuine need for the palliative help.
5. Empowerment and similar activities in the past are marred with nepotism, partisan colouration and diversion to people who do not deserve the items. Thus, we urge the government to strictly supervise the exercise collaboratively so that the impact could be truly felt by the people really in need of the measures.
6. Distribution of items of this nature is best done by independent bodies, especially reputable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Since we are not aware of the KWSG’s willingness to entrust this responsibility to any NGO, we are advising that representatives of credible NGOs and CSOs (to serve the purpose of monitoring and quality assurance in the public interest), community associations, market women associations, artisans associations, religious associations, traditional councils, and anti-graft agencies are included in the items’ distribution team.
7. The exercise should be transparent, and the government should account to the public how any fund used for the intervention is spent.