By Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha
Few hours after the Presidency reacted to his call for the dissolution of COVID-19 Palliatives Measures Committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadia Farouq, former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday said he stood by his position on the programme.
The Presidency had earlier in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, accused Ndume of politicising a national emergency and challenged him to name the alleged kleptocrats in Buhari’s government.
In a swift reaction to the Presidency’s statement, Ndume, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, emphasised that he stood by his observations and recommendations as far as palliatives distribution arising from COVID-19 is concerned.
Ndume who spoke on telephone however said he was not ready to join issues with anybody having made his observations known on the issue before now.
His words: “I’m not ready to join issues with anybody on palliatives distribution, having made my observations known based on information I got from the grassroots as a grassroots person
“I’ve made my position known on the programme and I stand by it,” the Borno South Senator said.
Ndume had on Thursday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, picked holes in the way and manner distribution of palliatives to indigent Nigerians at this critical time of Coronavirus lockdown, was being handled by the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.
The Senator who kicked against the modus operandi being adopted by the ministry in a chat with journalists, said the emergency national assignment should be taken away from the ministry and given to a fresh committee that would use governors of the 36 states as links of distribution across the federation.
His words: “My concern is the manner and the way the COVID-19 palliative measures provided by the president is being handled or executed. We have received numerous complaints and it is actually very unfortunate.
“In fact, left to me, I am strongly calling for the humanitarian committee headed by the minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be dissolved with immediate effect and the president should as a matter of urgency, form a taskforce that would deal with issue of palliatives, headed by the military, police, civil defence, voluntary organisations and the NYSC among others.
“It should be formed as taskforce committee headed by governor of each state, and those materials or cash be allocated and distributed house to house, instead of fake or dubious way they have been handling the matter by just going to Television House or Government House to demonstrate.
“If you see a minister or big person in anywhere going personally to do something, then know that there is something wrong. If not, what has the minister got to do with going from state to state to distribute palliative. They should be in the ministry monitoring the activities.
“While the pitiable situation of the poor is visible to everyone, few individuals are rushing to squander the money meant for the poor.
“We have reliable information that the names they generated are fake and that they connived with some of the banks to defraud the poor. It is better to stop the exercise because it
is full of lies and if the president don’t do something to stop it now, we will end up investigating and later on going back and forward to the court”.