*Tambuwal warns against politicization of the program
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state has instituted a 20-man committee to advise it on the modalities of this year’s Ramadan Feeding Programme (RFP).
The committee is expected to submit its report Monday at the Government House, Sokoto.
In his remarks before he established the committee, Gov. Tambuwal harped on the need not to politicize the works of the RFP on which the state government’s spending had risen from N177 million under the administration of his predecessor to N380 million under his administration last year.
Attributing the increase to the rise in the number of beneficiaries annually and the rise in the prices of the commodities procured for distribution, the governor said “this year’s Ramadan is very critical and important.
“We are aware of the relevance you have as Islamic scholars in the scheme of things in the state. This is why we invited you to discuss this year’s Ramadan Feeding Programme dispassionately.
“How do we improve it so that it will continue to be of benefit to the people of the state?,” the governor asked.
Also speaking at the meeting, Mallam Lawal Maidoki, the state Executive Chairman Zakkat Commission, observed that over the years the RFP had been coping with peculiar challenges, but that these could be surmounted if all stakeholders in the state work closely with each other.
Noting that although the programme doesn’t have any political coloration now, he said it was very likely that some people will cash in on it and turn it into one.
According to him, the basic challenge of the programme now is that of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.
“For that reason, the posers before us are: if there’s lockdown before Ramadan, what would we do? If there isn’t, what do we do?
“How do we tackle the situation of the beneficiaries, many of them old and indigent, including the ‘area boys’, in terms of distribution of food items? Should there be a lockdown, would the distribution be in form of takeaways or should the state government distribute the food items before the lockdown?
“Should hotspots be created where beneficiaries should go and collect their rations? Should the programme be extended to the rural areas of the state?,” Maidoki asked, suggesting that those engaged in the distribution of the breakfast meals should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs) while working, just as the beneficiaries too should be provided with masks and made to observe social distancing.
Against the foregoing background, Tambuwal inaugurated the advisory committee to be headed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Saidu Umar.
Other members of the committee are: the chairman of Sokoto state House of Assembly committee on religious affairs, Hon. Abubakar Shehu Yabo, the state commissioners for religious affairs and health, Hon. Abdullahi Mai Gwandu and Dr Ali Inname respectively.
Also in the committee are: Hon. Mani Maishunku, member representing Silame/Binji Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Sheikh Abubakar Jibril, Alhaji Mukhtar Maigona, Mal. Lawal Maigona and Mal. Lawal Maidoki.
The chairman of the state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and two of its members, one representative each of the Jama’atul Izalatul Bidi’a Wa Ikamatus Sunnah, the Qadiriyyah and Tijjaniyya sects.
Equally on the committee are: Mal. Amadu Helele, Dr Jabir Shehu Maihula, Prof. Sadiya Umar Bello, Hajiya Aisha Sani and Malama Zainab Binji.
The Secretary of the committee is the Permanent Secretary of the state’s ministry for Religious Affairs, Alhaji Bello Mailato.