Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), faith-based groups and residents of Kaduna State have faulted the shabby manner in which the N500 million food items procured by the state government are being distributed.
They said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna that the food items were either hijacked by politicians or shared to people not in need of the palliative in most areas.
The state government had announced that the N500 million worth of foodstuffs would be distributed to old and vulnerable people to cushion the effect of the total lockdown in the state over the Coronavirus pandemic.
The government had set up 7-man committees in each of the 255 wards to ensure that the items got to the right beneficiaries.
However, the distribution of the items has faced different challenges, with those meant to benefit from the gesture complaining of being short changed, as many did not receive the palliative.
Mr Sola Ojo, Chairman, Evidence and Knowledge Management Committee, Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition, said the distribution was marred by several challenges as most of the targeted groups were left out.
Ojo, who said he had monitored the distribution in Kaduna North LGA, complained that most of the people listed as beneficiaries were healthy young men and women.
“The cluster committee saddled with responsibility of identifying the vulnerable people in their communities failed woefully, some of the lists were discarded.
“We went to distribute food items to vulnerable groups, but most of the beneficiaries that came out to collect the items did not meet the criteria of a vulnerable poor.”
Mr Yusuf Goje of the Coalition of Association for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development, equally noted that most of the targeted groups did not benefit.
Goje who monitored the exercise in Chikun LGA, expressed concern over alleged diversion of 102 cartons of noodles and 300 gallons of vegetable oil meant for Nasarawa, Trikania and Kudandan cluster.
He noted that most of the committee members did not have the capacity to coordinate the distribution at community level, which manifested in the rowdiness that characterized the exercise.
Goje also said that there was complete absence of sensitisation at community level by the cluster committees, adding that people came out with the assumption that the food was for everybody.
Similarly, Mr Silas Ideva, the Chief Executive Officer, Carelink Resource Foundation, who monitored the exercise in Kaduna North, said that the cluster committees politicised the distribution.
According to him, most of the targeted beneficiaries were left out because of the politics that came into play, a situation he described as “very unfortunate”.
“The development has watered down the efforts of government to provide succor to the vulnerable groups who are the worst affected by the lockdown across the state,” Ideva noted.
On his part, Mr Abdulrahman Mikail, Programme Manager, I Care Women and Youth Initiative, who monitored the distribution in Kaduna South LGA, said that the distribution was characterized by massive crowd.
He blamed the situation on poor planning, lack of involvement of civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders in the planning and implementation of the distribution exercise.
Mikail also said that most of the targeted groups did not get the food items, while people with disabilities were completely schemed out.
Similar complain trailed the palliative distribution in other parts of the state.
The Bishop of First Baptist Church Sabon Gari, Zaria, Rev. Isaac Gbadero, appealed to the state government to adopt more transparent measures in distributing the foodstuffs to vulnerable persons in local government areas yet to be covered.
Gbadero said what was distributed was less than what a household needed for a day’s meal.
“As we speak, it has not even gotten to real households, communities and Local Government Areas,” he said.
The Bishop added that the church has complemented government efforts by distributing similar palliative to vulnerable groups through donations received from wealthy members.
Similarly, Malam Safiyanu Abubakar, a resident of Tudun Wada, Zaria told NAN that the mechanism adopted by the government in the distribution of the food items in the area was not transparent.
Abubakar said the exercise was politicized at the cluster level where the seven-man committee mandated to distribute the items formed sub-committes, thereby sidelining the main beneficiaries.
Some beneficiaries at Kwan Gero, Bambale, Gyallesu and Tukur-Tukur/Magume clusters in Zaria local government, however, expressed appreciation to the state government for the gesture.
According to Ahmed Shuaib, deputy chairman of the distribution committee at Runji in Hanwa Cluster, they got six bags of 50 kg rice and each beneficiary got one measure of rice, while some got two sachets of pasta.
He added that other beneficiaries got one measure of beans while others shared 10kg of garri.
A resident of Hanwa in Zaria, Kabiru Shuaib, said the items given to them were grossly inadequate and not enough to feed for a day.
According to him, the sub-committee members were largely politicians who used the opportunity to favor their party members and neglected people who needed the support most.
NAN recalls that the food items were distributed in Zaria on April 4.
The Chairman Distribution Task Force in Zaria, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani, had at the time said each cluster received 1,000 cartons of noodles, 85 bags of 50kg of Rice and 129 cartons of four litres of vegetable oil.
Other items received were 12 bags of beans, 420 bags of Semovita, 140 cartons of spaghetti and undisclosed number of bags of Garri and sugar.
The Chairman, Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani, who chaired the distribution, had said that the items were for 14 clusters in Zaria.
In Rigasa ward of Igabi LGA, a committee member, Abdullahi Shehu, claimed that hoodlums attacked and whisked away some of the foodstuffs while being transported to the benefitting clusters.
Shehu said that Rigasa ward received 1,200 bags of 10kg rice,750packs of semovita, 1,200 cartons of noodles, 150 bags of 10kg beans, and more than 300 cartons of spaghetti and galons of oil.
He, however, said “hoodlums attacked the vehicles transporting the food and carted away more than 25 percent of the food items.”
Shehu noted that some of the drivers and security operatives conveying the items were injured during the attack.
“We collected the food from Rigachikun around 10pm and on our arrival in Rigasa, we saw gang of youth barricading the road, ordering vehicles to stop. They carted away some of the items before the police arrived the scene.
“We distributed 75% of the items to the less privileged even though it did not go round the households selected to benefit from the gesture,” Shehu said.
Abubakar Ibrahim, Secretary of the distribution committee in Rigasa said, “we selected 25 mosques in each zone from both the Izala and Darika sects and 25 groups known as majalisa in each of the zones.
“We also gave religious leaders of both Muslim and Christian faith some packs to give to vulnerable members in their circle.
“120 households were identified from poor and vulnerable groups in the three zones and were given the food items.”
On his part, Mr Thomas Gyang, Commissioner, Planning and Budget Commission, said that the food items doled out by government included rice, beans, semovita, spaghetti, noodles, garri and vegetable oil.
Gyang explained that the distribution was done in clusters across the benefiting pilot local government areas of Chikun, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, Kaura, Jema’a, Sabon Gari and Zaria.
He said that the cluster committees, made up of party officials, traditional and religion leaders, women and other community members, were responsible for mapping, selection and handing over the food items to the beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the State Government, Malam Balarabe Abbas-Lawal, who is also the Chairman of the Palliative Committee, acknowledged the challenges being experienced in the distribution.
Abbas-Lawal blamed the development on poor planning by some of the cluster committees.
He, however assured that the committees would make amendments to address the challenges as the distribution continues in other parts of the state.
“We will continue this exercise until all the LGAs are covered and will be making amendments from the experiences learned, going forward,” he said.