Niger legislature decries wastage of COVID-19 palliatives in stores

By Ummi Ismaeel, Minna

Niger State House of Assembly Committee on coronavirus (COVID-19) has said that it was not happy that food items donated as palliatives to cushion the effects of the pandemic were wasting in stores for the past two months.

The items were supposed to be distrubuted to the state indigenes by the Task Force.

This is coming on the heels of allegations of sharp practices, politicizing the exercise and as well favouritism by those handling the COVID-19 palliatives donated by federal, state government and some citizens.

While the committee vested with the responsibility of sharing the palliatives had being criticized for allegedly favouring a particular religion and political party members, others attributed the failure of the committee in discharging its duties on the composition of members which has given rise to disenfranchising some tribes.

Two months ago, Niger State Task Force on COVID-19 so far received 88 trucks of palliatives, including about three trucks of rice from the federal government .

The items stored at the Niger State Supply Company, near Government Day Secondary School included; 94, 194 cartons of noodles, 47, 611 cartons of sugar, 9,000 bags of 10kg rice, and 43,311 cartons of Macaroni and Spaghetti.

Also at the Niger State Agricultural Mechanization Development Authority (NAMDA); 3,150 bags of 50kg rice, 5, 015 cartons of Indomie, 1, 860 cartons of Spaghetti, 1, 236 of 5kg rice and 2, 010 packs of 1kg Semovita are among the food items wasting therein while people suffer.

However, during an oversight function to isolation centres and food stores across the state, the Chairman of the House of Assembly’s Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19, Mr. Abdulmalik Madaki Bosso, expressed sadness that while people were dying of hunger, palliatives donated over two months ago were being eaten by insects.

Some of the palliatives were donated by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID19) and other donors to help cushion the effects of the lockdown.

Though Niger State had eased the lockdown and put in place some compulsory measures to stem the spread, Madaki regretted that Nigerlites were yet to overcome its effects as many still go about without food or still living in poverty.

According to him, “If the food items have been kept in these stores for over two months now and you say you are waiting for a distribution template from the donors, then you need to persuade them to come up with it as soon as possible.

“Our people are suffering, dying of hunger and you know that hunger waits for no one and we can’t just sit and watch our people going through hardship while assorted food items are locked up in our stores being feasted on by insects”.

Responding, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Chairman Niger State Task Force on COVID-19, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, said that the committee has not distributed the palliatives because ‘donations are still coming in’.

Ibrahim Matane who however claimed that part of the palliatives was distributed during the lockdown, told the legislators that the committee was waiting for sharing template from the donors before distributing the items to beneficiaries.

According to him, “We have received 88 trucks of palliatives from COVID-19 and three trucks of rice from the federal government, but we are still waiting for a template from the donors before we start the distribution to Nigerlites”.

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