COVID-19 palliative hoarding:Buhari not to blame

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THE looting of COVID-19 warehouses has continued to generate reactions with call for President Muhammadu Buhari to be absolved from state government’s actions that led to stockpiling of the palliative in various warehouses until hoodlums cashed–in on #EndSARS protest to plunder the warehouses and cart away the products.

  According to sources within the presidency, including the president’s daughter, Zahra, President Muhammadu Buhari never told the 36 states to await further directives before they could distribute the COVID-19 palliative to the people.

  In an Instagram post, Zahra defended her father, arguing the discovery of the COVID-19 palliatives showed that the president is not the problem of the country but the state governments.

  “Now that people confirmed that Buhari distributed enough palliatives nationwide, it is clear Buhari is not our problem.”

  Other sources within the presidency say the COVID-19 palliatives were hoarded by the state governments for reasons best known to them.

   “We don’t want to join issue with them. But to set the record straight, there was never a time when the presidency or the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs said state governors should not distribute the palliatives given to them until a certain time.”

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  The COVID-19 palliatives were distributed to all the 36 states by the federal government to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

  It would be recalled that in clear dismay that followed the EndSARS protest, suspected hoodlums and hungry Nigerians have been breaking into stores and strategic reserves to loot food items and everything on sight.

  COVID-19 warehouse located in Maza-Maza area of Lagos was completely looted by hundreds of youths while the Cocoa House in Ede area of Osun State was also plundered.

   The hoodlums also used the avenue to plunder some personal businesses and vandalise public and private facilities in what has been attributed to hunger and excessive greed.

  State governments have, however, been coming out with different excuses, with Osun in a release saying it was waiting for directives from the above to commence the distribution.

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  It will be recalled that prior to the incident, the federal government, highly-spirited Nigerians and groups like Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) had contributed food and non-food items to the states to give out to people.

  The discovery of COVID-19 palliatives in some states has now been raising numerous questions, with a section blaming the state government, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, led by Sadiya Umar Farouq and the president.

  Meanwhile, reports had it that residents of Plateau discovered a warehouse where COVID-19 palliatives were stored just like in other states; the warehouse which is located in the Bukuru community of Jos South Local Government Area of the state was stormed by a staggering number of Jos residents with people trooping in their numbers to cart away the palliatives.

  In Kaduna State, the Ag Governor, Hadiza Balarabe has clarified that the food items that were looted on Saturday, were donations from    Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

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  Balarabe also dispelled the rumour that the donations were hoarded by the government or any of its officials. She praised law-abiding citizens and appealed for their understanding on the necessity of the 24-hour statewide curfew.

  In a state broadcast yesterday, the Acting Governor explained that the government was ready to commence distribution in all the local government areas, after taking pains to arrange a fair and efficient system.

  According to her, “Kaduna State received the last delivery of CACOVID items after lifting the lockdown, at a time when the state’s COVID-19 figures were rising.”

   “The government considered the real possibility that a second lockdown might be required. Therefore, it weighed the prospect of using these donations to mitigate the lockdown were such to happen,” Balarabe said.

  “However, the government subsequently decided to distribute the CACOVID items to vulnerable citizens, using the lessons from the distribution of the items purchased by the state government during the lockdown,” she added.

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