Nigeria: COVID-19 - Residents Fault Sanwo-Olu's Stimulus Package

Some Lagos State residents have faulted the distribution pattern of the stimulus package Governor Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu announced, saying it is not reaching the people it is intended for.

The residents expressed disappointment on the quantity of the items contained in the package, labelled 'Lagos State Government COVID-19 Emergency Food Response', which they argued negated what the governor promised. They also accused those distributing the package of bias.

It was gathered that some Community Development Associations (CDA) leaders got only a few packages that cannot go round the houses/families in the community and consequently refused to distribute the items in order to prevent confusion and quarrel among the people.

The Lagos State government had unveiled an economic stimulus package for the indigent and most vulnerable people in the state to cushion the effects of the 14-day stay-at-home directive occasioned by the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease in the state.

According to the governor, the stimulus, which comes in food packs, would be distributed to every local government in the state, targeting, at least, 200,000 people in the first phase.

He said the food packs would reach the most vulnerable communities and households, with an assurance to the indigents who relied on daily wages that they would be given priority in the distribution of the food packs.

"We have packaged dry food stimulus for about 200,000 families in the first instance for a household of husband, wife and about four children. We would be giving bags of rice, bags of beans, garri, bread, dry pepper, and we are trying to see if we can add water and some elements of vitamin C. Each ration, we believe, is going to be able to last a household of husband, wife and about four children for, at least, a minimum of 14 days so that our advocacy around 'stay at home', 'stay with your loved ones' will be respected," Sanwo-Olu said.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, had also said that the government would be working with the existing database of the state, using the Lagos State Residents register and 4,000 community development associations registers in 377 wards.

But some residents who did not get the packs have, however, accused the distributors of giving them to their party members and allies only, while some who were lucky to get alleged that the content of the bag was too small compared to what the governor promised.

A source in the Ministry of Agriculture told Daily Trust that the Ministry distributed the food items in each wards as it should and accused some middlemen of hijacking the distribution and not giving the appropriate quantity to the indigent people in the state.

The source said, "It is possible that those at the wards may not have taken the packs to the masses. It was later, after the distribution exercise that we discovered that all the food items and the quantity expected to be delivered to the people have been hijacked. The quantity we asked them to give was not what was given after all.

"We also learnt that where the food was not sufficient, it was given to the elderly, and to religious organizations to distribute to their indigent members. To ensure the food gets to the appropriate people, another batch was distributed and the addresses provided for the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASSRA) registration were used in calling the masses to confirm if they actually collected any food item.

To underline how inadequate the package was, a resident of the Ifedagba CDA, Ajasa-Command, Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, Mustapha Ogunsakin, posted on his facebook wall, "The COVID-19 emergency relief package of Lagos State received in my CDA this morning. Mind you, the CDA consists of about 300 families made up of both strong and weak people. I learnt the same package of two bags consisting of 3kg of rice, 3kg of garri, and 3kg of beans was given to more than 16 CDAs in my area. We gave the package to six widows."

Lagos residents have appealed to the state governor to embark on house-to-house distribution in the next phase in order to address the inadequacies in the first phase.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Executive Council virtual meeting on Tuesday discussed the provision of additional isolation centres, fumigation of the state against the spread of the virus, and packages for the less-privileged, daily income earners and the indigent.

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