Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), a Kwara-based Civil Society Organization known for its #FollowKwaraMoney project, had earlier lauded the popular lockdown order by the Kwara State Government (KWSG) to prevent any incident or transmission of the pandemic Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) in the state. ENetSuD also noted that the state government’s proactive measures, even though there has not been any suspected or confirmed case of the disease, are indications that the life and safety of Kwara residents are important to the government.
In a letter jointly signed by its Coordinator (Dr. Alagbonsi Abdullateef) and Secretary (Mr. Mahmud Usman Baba) and submitted today 28th March 2020 to the Spokesman of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 (Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye), ENetSuD noted that notwithstanding the laudable and difficult lockdown order which was made in good faith and the public interest, the majority of Kwarans in the informal sector would be severely affected, as most of the people in this sector possibly can not feed themselves and their family members without accessing their shops and rendering their daily services. ENetSuD added that this conviction made it urge the KWSG on 26th March, 2020 to consider and approve the spending of one-month Internally Generated Revenue of the State for the provision of food items to people in the informal sector across the state.
ENetSuD added that it was pleased to read the latest statement from the State Technical Committee on COVID-19 dated 27th March, 2020 and signed by Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor (who is the committee’s spokesman), which stated that the KWSG is considering palliative measures for the poorest of the poor at this critical COVID-19 pandemic period. Thus, ENetSuD further suggested the following possible ways the government may wish to consider for the implementation of the proposed palliative measures:
- The measures should be mainly foodstuffs and agricultural items that will serve the purpose of feeding, but not hand-sanitizers or facemasks. This is based on the fact that the lockdown order has already significantly prevented physical contacts of people as they are now unavoidably staying at home, and all households can efficiently practice handwashing with their soap.
- The measures should only be for Kwara residents in the informal sector who are the most affected by this pandemic-induced lockdown. For instance, Taxi drivers, Okada riders, Keke NAPEP riders, market women, artisans (bricklayers, labourers, etc), just to mention a few, are set of people in this category that can’t likely feed themselves and their family members without accessing their shops and rendering their daily services.
- The measures should exclude the civil servants in the formal sector since the government has graciously continued to pay their salaries even during the period, which would remove hardship.
- We are aware that there is no reliable data on the eligible beneficiaries of the proposed exercise. Thus, we are advising the KWSG to work with the artisans, market and community associations to altruistically identify their members with a genuine need for the palliative help.
- Empowerment and similar activities in the past are marred with nepotism, partisan colouration and diversion to people who do not deserve the items. Thus, we urge the government to strictly supervise the exercise collaboratively so that the impact could be truly felt by the people really in need of the measures.
- Distribution of items of this nature is best done by independent bodies, especially reputable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Since we are not aware of the KWSG’s willingness to entrust this responsibility to any NGO, we are advising that representatives of credible NGOs and CSOs (to serve the purpose of monitoring and quality assurance in the public interest), community associations, market women associations, artisans associations, religious associations, traditional councils, and anti-graft agencies are included in the items’ distribution team.
- The exercise should be transparent, and the government should account to the public how any fund used for the intervention is spent.