The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has expressed concerns that the palliatives being distributed by federal and state governments to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on poor and vulnerable Nigerians were not reaching them.

The group also called for transparency and accountability on the cost of palliatives being distributed across the country.

Chairman of HEDA, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said due to the lockdown, the living conditions of about 90 million poor Nigerians, who have no access to the essentials of life have been compounded.

Suraju stated that these poor Nigerians have been on the threshold of misery with serious consequences unless the various authorities reply to their needs immediately. 

He said that HEDA had been compiling information from across the country on the impact of government palliative interventions.

He added it constantly received reports that many of the vulnerable poor are excluded from the palliatives being shared by the various tiers of government while in some instances, deliberate distribution of materials have been restricted to only members of the ruling political parties in particular areas.

Suraju said, "We recommend that the tiers of government should share palliatives taking into consideration organised groups of artisans and those in the informal sector whose means of livelihood have been adversely affected by the lockdown.

“The government needs to design an inclusive distribution mechanism that will focus on critical population in the country.”

Suraju urged the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs led by Sadiya Umar Farouq to run an all-encompassing system whereby unions and associations of beneficiaries will be involved in the conception, design and distribution of palliatives to beneficiaries.

He also tasked government to be conscious of the fact that the lockdown without an economic roadmap can spur organised violent upheavals across the country.

He added, “This in itself is conceivable when most of the affected people are Nigerians whose living is dependent on daily earnings trampled upon by the lockdown.

“The need for an economic roadmap that will deal with the present and future consequences of COVID-19 is imperative.

“The federal and state governments need a tripartite meeting of the government, labour and civil society and the private sector to work out a programme of action that will decisively address the problems at hand.”

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