The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), has explained that the Covid-19 palliatives looted from many warehouses across the country were waiting for distribution.
In a late-night statement by the Ag. Director of Corporate Communications of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Osita Nwanisobi, the coalition said that the sheer quantity of the items procured was responsible for the delay in the distribution of the relief items to the poor and vulnerable families across the country.
The statement reads in full:
“Members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) wish to call for calm, amidst the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution in various State Government warehouses across the country.
“The Coalition is deeply concerned by the recent events and is urging those involved in the wanton destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from these raids, in order to allow the States to proceed with a peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.
“Over the past few months, the Private Sector, through CACOVID, has been working with all State Governors, the FCT Minister, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, to procure, deliver and distribute these food relief items to almost 2 million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, as part of the private sector’s support to the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner, with States classified in three timed phases, to enable orderly delivery to the needy.
“At the time CACOVID embarked on the palliatives effort in April 2020, we decided to procure the food directly from the manufacturers, to avoid a distortion of prices in the market. The food package was designed such that each of the nearly 2 million vulnerable families received: a 10kg bag of rice, a 5kg bag of garri/maize flour/semolina, one carton of pasta, two cartons of noodles, 5kg of sugar and 1kg of salt.
“Unfortunately, the very large size of the order, and the production cycle required to meet the demand, caused delays in delivering the food items to the States in an expeditious manner; hence the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the State Governors.
“For instance, Rice had to be milled, semolina and maize flour had to be processed, noodles and pasta had to be manufactured, and sugar had to be refined. As such, the first deliveries could not start until June. However, as of October 2020, a sizable portion of the items had been delivered but yet to be distributed by the Governors.
“Although various States and the FCT had commenced flag-off of the distribution of the food items since early August 2020, some could not conclude the distribution as they were yet to receive complete deliveries of the items allotted to them. In the interest of transparency and accountability, CACOVID will, in due course, be providing the full delivery schedule and flag-off dates by each state.
“Prior to these events, CACOVID had worked with the States through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to determine:
(i) the number of households per State;
(ii) the States and FCT to provide clean and secure warehousing for the food;
(iii) the composition of the State and Local Government Committees (including CSOs, religious organisations, LGA Chairpersons, Ward Leaders, media representatives, security services, CACOVID representatives); and
(iv) clear distribution guidelines to ensure equitable distribution of the food amongst the neediest.
“Given that the States and Local Government authorities oversee all relief efforts in their jurisdictions and know their citizens best, we had worked with each Governor and the Minister of the FCT, utilising a combination of our protocols and their existing structures and processes to ensure food items reach the intended beneficiaries. We also appointed an independent monitoring team to ensure that the items would be delivered as intended.
“We are aware that official flag-off and handover of the palliatives have taken place in 28 states and the FCT, and State governments have been distributing at various paces. As of today, October 26, 2020, some States have confirmed completion of their distribution while others were in the process of proceeding with the distribution before these looting took place. By these looting incidents, it, therefore, meant that some intended beneficiaries had been deprived of the opportunity of benefitting from CACOVID’s good intentions.
“In line with our earlier promise, KPMG Professional Services, our external auditors are at the verge of completing the audit of all contributions from our donors; as well as a listing of all medical and food items procured with these funds. We will be sharing the external audit reports of our spending, alongside a full report of CACOvID activities, including delivery and planned flag-off dates of our donations to Nigerians.
“It is very unfortunate that various States, including States that have concluded the distribution of their allocations, are seeing their warehouses and other premises being raided. It must also be noted that not every warehouse in Nigeria that contains palliatives is affiliated with the CACOVID donation, given that the States themselves, the Federal Government and other organisations have also made donations.
“In light of these unsavoury developments, we would like to appeal for calm, and for States to be allowed to proceed with their palliatives distribution peacefully, even as each State will undoubtedly keep its citizens abreast of the distribution process to ensure transparency, accountability, and equity. We urge all to be law-abiding, to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and to end the raiding of these warehouses.
“The Coalition disavows and urges the public to disregard, any unauthorised source of information regarding the current issue. CACoVID confirms this platform as the only one authorised to communicate on behalf of the group.”