•CACOVID insistence on inauguration delays distribution of palliatives, says Akeredolu
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct an open and independent public enquiry into the handling of monies released by the federal government as COVID-19 intervention fund.
The main opposition party called on the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms. Sadiya Farouq, to give an account of how much was released to her, the specific purchases, with details of contractors; details of the distribution of palliatives and agents in all states; as well as details of bank withdrawals and beneficiaries of the N20, 000 cash disbursements.
PDP said it has exposed designs by indicted federal government officials to use the invasion of CACOVID palliative warehouses to escape investigation into the reported stealing and criminal diversion of funds and palliatives provided by the federal government to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also described as scandalous an alleged attempt by Farouq to create an impression that the CACOVID palliatives besieged in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest were the same federal government palliatives for which she is required to give account.
In a related development, the Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum, Mr.
Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, yesterday said the insistence on an official inauguration by the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) before the distribution of the palliative commodities was largely responsible for the delay in distributing the items to the people.
According to a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, “Our party wants to inform the minister that such infantile antics cannot sway Nigerians, as the public is already aware that CACOVID palliatives came from donations from well-meaning individuals and organisations, which is completely different from the N500 billion voted by the federal government, which has not been accounted for.
“If anything, this attempt by the minister to muddle-up issues and confuse Nigerians only goes to validate allegations of stealing and diversion of funds and palliatives provided by the federal government and placed under her purview.
“Of course, the CACOVID palliatives have nothing to do with the alleged stealing and diversion of funds in the cash disbursement of N20, 000 to undocumented beneficiaries leading to a widespread outcry by Nigerians that bulk of the money may have been diverted.”
The PDP said the minister has not explained the reason for the obvious breach of statutory public finance report system and appropriate documentation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), leading to the alleged diversion of funds to private purses.
Also, the CACOVID palliatives, the PDP said, have nothing to do with the billions of naira claimed to have been spent on school feeding at a time the schools were shut and schoolchildren were in their homes in different locations across the country.
According to the PDP, “It is revealing to state that our party had earlier gotten winds of allegations in the public space that some indicted federal officials compromised arrangements at CACOVID warehouses to trigger an invasion by agitating Nigerians, as a decoy to frustrate the investigation into the alleged stealing and diversion of federal government palliatives by government officials.
“Our party holds that this particular attempt to cover corruption places a huge burden on the Buhari-led administration and we call on Mr. President to come clean on the handling of federal government’s funding on COVID-19.”
The party expressed its support for calls by Nigerians that Buhari immediately orders an open and independent public enquiry into the handling of the funds released by the federal government as COVID-19 intervention fund.
Also yesterday, Akeredolu said the insistence on an official inauguration ceremony by CACOVID before the distribution of the palliative commodities, was responsible for the delay in distributing the items to the people.
Akeredolu, at a church service to mark the third year enthronement of the Bishop of Owo Diocese, Anglican Communion, Reverend Stephen Fagbemi, in Owo, debunked claims that some governors deliberately hoarded COVID-19 palliatives, which were looted by hoodlums who hijacked the #ENDSARS protests.
Akeredolu stated that Ondo State was saved from the looting spree due to the continuous distribution of the palliatives.
He, however, said those states where the palliatives were warehoused, were also waiting for the donation of the remaining items and flag-off by the CACOVID.
Akeredolu described his victory at the October 10 governorship election as God’s project, which no man could truncate.
He assured the people that his re-election cannot be tampered with.