The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) yesterday asked the National Assembly and all anti-graft agencies to look into why the federal, state and local governments did not distribute the palliatives, which the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) donated to the people.
CISLAC, an anti-graft non-governmental organisation, said current distrust of the population, social disorder and raids on government and private assets “are a consequence of non-existent transparency and communication to the public about government’s measures taken to combat the pandemic.”
It expressed concern in a statement its Executive Director, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani issued on Friday, lamenting the discovery of undistributed palliatives, which was kept in various warehouses in most states across the country.
Rafsanjani faulted the attempt by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to clarify why some items were not distributed, saying it was scandalous that the palliatives were left undistributed by the federal, state and local governments.
He wondered why it took this long to distribute essential goods that were meant to alleviate the hardship faced during the lockdown period (April-June, 2020).
He therefore, said the condemnable act “is a clear abuse of entrusted power for personal gain. Meanwhile, certain lawmakers also issued statements to defend why they stored valuable goods that were supposed to be distributed to the population that they are supposed to serve.
“No lawmaker has any business storing public property in private quarters! This display of monumental arrogance bordering on corruption should not only be condemned,” the executive director observed.
He, also, called on the relevant anti-graft agencies, the National Assembly and all other relevant stakeholders “to investigate why the palliatives were not distributed in a timely and transparent manner to the target vulnerable groups.”
He noted that CISLAC “has been in the forefront demanding for transparency and accountability in the distribution of the palliatives in the context of the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Part of our demands was the involvement of stakeholders – both state and non-state actors – which would have included genuine CSOs, community-based organisations, religious institutions and anti-corruption agencies that would have forestalled the current crisis faced by the country emanating from the undistributed palliatives,” he observed.
He, therefore, demanded a transparent and verifiable system of the distribution of the palliatives so that the government could earn public trust.
He advised states that are yet to distribute their palliatives to emulate the few states that have distributed essential goods to the citizens judiciously.
He urged government officials, lawmakers and others, “to resist justifying personal and institutional failures with laughable and discredited excuses. The government’s lack of argument and explanation has prompted anger and distrust in the population.”
He urged government at all levels to include community and religious leaders, genuine civil society organisations and representatives from the media in the future disbursement of palliatives to ensure transparency in the process.
Rafsanjani condemned the actions of some individuals who took advantage of the peaceful protest “to raid public and private properties. Their actions are totally criminal as it cannot have any justification.
“It is important to draw a line between peaceful protesters, who want security sector reform to save lives of harassed citizens and accountable governance and the hoodlums who have infiltrated these protests and are unleashing mayhem in different parts of the country.
“We see all of these scenarios as a lapse in governance at one point or the other. We totally reject the call by some groups asking that the international community should sanction Nigeria.
“This will bring untold hardship and compound the economic woes bedevilling the country presently. This call smacks of shortsightedness and is totally unpatriotic,” Rafsanjani clarified.