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.
Edited By: Shuaibu Sadiq/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
WAEC: KDSG directs schools to open Aug. 10
The state Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi, said in a statement in Kaduna on Monday, that the directive was in compliance with the Federal Ministry of Education resolution for schools to open on Aug. 4.
“Therefore, the Ministry of Education is directing all school principals to arrange to receive SSS 3 boarding students on Aug. 9 and day students on Aug. 10.
“All administrators of public and private schools are to note that the one-week period commencing from today is to allow for necessary preparations and arrangements to meet COVID-19 guidelines for the opening of schools.
“Principals are to ensure compliance to agreed guidelines, which include reduced hours of work/revision to four hours per shift, social distancing in classes, laboratories, libraries and hostels,’’ he said.
He warned that no school should open before Aug. 10, except for boarding schools, where students are expected to arrive on Aug. 9.
The commissioner further directed private secondary schools in the state to report their readiness to open to the schools’ Quality Assurance Authority.
He said that private schools should report, using the appropriate checklist and obtain a written ‘no objection to open’, on clean bill of health.
He also asked that head of higher institutions and principals of secondary schools should report to the relevant department in the ministry.
He called on parents to ensure proper arrangement for safe transportation of their children to and from schools.
“To make the environment safe and conducive for academic activity, the government is doing everything possible to decontaminate and disinfect public schools, including higher institutions and provide hand washing facilities.
“We will also arrange for temperature monitoring of both staff and students, provision of face masks to staff and students, as well as hand sanitisers.
“However, parents are advised to equip their children with extra face masks and small 100ml hand sanitisers for use during their transportation to and from schools,’’ he added.
Makarfi said that appropriate dates for other examinations would be announced in due course, including school opening for the rest of the classes including SSS1, SSS2, JSS 1 to 3 and primary schools.
He encouraged schools to continue the e-learning programme using Google class, Zoom, radio and television and other online platforms until normalcy returned.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Taxi drivers withdraw services in Calabar, protest illegal taxation
Commercial taxi drivers in Calabar on Monday withdrew their services to protest alleged illegal taxation by some thugs and local government officials in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that due to the protest a lot of commuters were stranded at bus stops in Calabar while many trekked to their different destinations.
The protesters who carried placards with inscriptions such as “stop harassing us”, “illegal taxation is a crime in Cross River” among others.
The protesters alleged that some people were often harassing drivers in the metropolis to pay some taxes and levies against the tax exemption law of the state.
Gov. Ben Ayade had constituted the Cross River Anti-Tax Agency to ensure that all low income earners in the state including taxi and tricycles operators were exempted from paying all forms of taxes and levies.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, the representative of the protesting drivers, Mr Edem Asuquo, said drivers were caught on a daily basis for dropping and picking passengers at different spots in the city.
“They take you to their Centres and collect N25,000 or N15,000 from you, which is the least.
“So we decided to march to the governor’s office to protest and hear from him directly and know if he is the one sending these people to harass us or not.
“This is why we withdrew our services today,” he said.
In his response, Bishop Emmah Isong, Chairman, State Anti-Tax Agency, said the protest was good and a welcome development.
“The governor exempted these classes of people from taxation and, then, some politicians and local government officials kept taxing them.
“We, the Anti-Tax Agency have tried everything to tell the local government authorities not to tax them.
“So the people should take their destinies in their hand by protesting for their right, it is good for the state, so long as they are peaceful and do not destroy any property.
“They have been using security agencies to harass the drivers, security agencies that refused to cooperate with the Anti-Tax Agency are cooperating with politicians to harass and exploit the poor,” he said.
He advised residents of the state to know their tax exemption rights and pursue them vigorously adding that it must not be the job of the Ant-Tax Agency alone.
NAN reports that due to the protest, a lot of commuters were stranded at bus stops in Calabar while many trekked to their different destinations.
When contacted on telephone, Nkese Emeyo, the media officer, Calabar South Local Government Area, said that the LGA had nothing to do with the extortion.
“My Chairman placed a revocation notice to all contractors collecting taxes for the LGA. So, there is nothing like tax from our Council.
“We are not getting anything from anybody and we have not sent anybody to get tax from drivers.’’ She said.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
COVID-19: Nigeria reports 304 fresh infections; death toll hits 888
Nigeria reported 304 new confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the death toll jumps to 888.
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) made this known on its official twitter handle on Sunday.
The centre noted that five deaths were recorded in the country.
It added that till date, the country recorded 43,841 confirmed cases, 20,308 discharged and 888 deaths in 36 states and the FCT.
It showed that the 304 new cases were reported from 15 states, namely Lagos (81), FCT (39), Abia (31), Kaduna (24), Rivers (23), Plateau (16), Cross River (13), Ebonyi (12), Ondo (12) Ekiti (11), Edo (11), Benue (10), Nasarawa (10), Ogun (6) and Gombe (5).
The health agency noted that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, would continue to coordinate the COVID-19 national response activities across the country.
The NCDC said that Nigerians risk of the virus would be higher if they were less than six feet from people at a crowded public place or if they freely share equipment and not practice social distancing and other habits to stay healthy.
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
NiMet predicts cloudy, thundery weather activities Monday to Wednesday
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted cloudy and thundery weather activities from Monday to Wednesday across the country.
NiMet`s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja predicted cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms over some parts of northern states.
The states are Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Sokoto, Taraba, Kebbi and Katsina.
According to the agency, the rest of the region will be under cloudy conditions during the time.
“Later in the day, cloudy skies with pockets of thunderstorms are anticipated over the region with the exception of Sokoto where cloudy condition is expected.
“Over the central region, cloudy skies with isolated rain showers are anticipated over Jos, Nasarawa, Makurdi, Niger and Abuja during the morning hours.
“As the day progresses, much cloudiness is expected to prevail over the region with prospects of thunderstorms over Benue, Abuja, Niger and Plateau States.’’
The agency predicted that southern coast and the inland would be cloudy with the exception of Ikom, Obudu, Calabar in Cross River and Eket in Akwa Ibom, where light rain showers were anticipated during the morning hours.
It further predicted that some southeast inland and coastal cities such as Enugu, Umuahia, Obudu, Uyo, Calabar, Eket, Port-Harcourt and Yenagoa are expected to experience cloudy skies with scattered rain showers later in the day.
The agency, however, envisaged cloudy skies over the inland and coastal areas of the Southwest.
According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are likely over Katsina, Borno, Taraba and Katsina on Tuesday, while the rest of the northern region is expected to be cloudy during the morning hours.
“Places like Southern Borno, Bauchi, and Gombe will experience cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms in the evening while the rest of the region are expected to be cloudy.
“Cloudy skies with thunderstorms are expected over Niger axis, while other parts of the central cities will experience much cloudiness during the morning hours.
“Scattered thunderstorms are anticipated over Kaduna and Niger States in the afternoon with more prospects in the evening.
“Cloudy conditions are expected over inland and coast of the south during the morning and evening period.’’
NiMet forecast cloudy skies over the northern region with chances of thunderstorms over Borno, Gombe, and Adamawa during the morning hours of Wednesday.
It also predicted pockets of thunderstorms over Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Zamfara and Kebbi States.
“Cloudy skies are expected to prevail across the central region during the morning hours, while thunderstorms are expected over the high grounds of the central states during the afternoon and evening period.
“Cloudiness is expected to prevail over the inland and the coastal belt throughout the forecast period.’’
Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Silas Nwoha (NAN)