By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Traditional rulers, religious leaders and community-based organisations at various ward levels are to oversee the distribution of Kwara State government’s palliative packages to the poorest of the poor in the state, Emir of Shonga and chairman of the committee on palliatives Dr Haliru Yahaya said on Wednesday.
The emir also said the palliatives would primarily target categories of persons that are considered to be worst hit by the government’s directive for people to stay at home as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to Kwara State.
“To enable seamless distribution and to ensure maximum coverage of the targeted beneficiaries, the distribution will be carried out at ward level,” Dr Yahaya told a news briefing in Ilorin, flanked by some other members of the committee.
“Accordingly, each of the 16 local government areas and 193 wards in the state are hereby required to set up an implementation committee respectively comprising a representative each of the following: the most senior traditional authority in the local government and ward; the most senior religious authority in the local government and ward; and two representatives of the community-based organisations in the local government and in the ward.
“The committees at the local government areas are only to supervise and provide independent monitoring of what happens at the ward levels.
“The Ward Implementation Committees should, with immediate effect, draw up a list of beneficiaries that match the criteria stated above. Such list should reach the secretariat of the Committee on Palliatives on or before 12 noon on Friday 3rd April 2020. We believe that the necessary checks will be built into the exercise with the constitution of these committees even as the Palliatives committee will have overall coordination of the exercise.
“This ward-level distribution of the palliatives will be carried out in phases and the number of packages going to each ward shall be announced. The steering committee on palliatives shall duly announce dates for the distribution of items for each ward. We are projecting to start distribution from this weekend. It is expected that the DPM’s in all the Local Governments shall liaise with the Palliatives committee on the movement of the items to their respective Local Governments.”
The emir, a medical doctor, also explained that the ward level distribution would involve strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols, including temperature screening of beneficiaries and social distancing.
“The committee appeals to individual donors to consider routing their palliatives to these ward committee which, supported by security agencies, are to ensure temperature screening (with thermometers) and social distancing as beneficiaries pick their own packages at spacious central locations.”
An offshoot of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, members of the committee on palliatives include former CAN Chairman Professor Timothy Opoola; Dr Saudat Abdulbaqi; Umar Jimada (Secretary); Special Adviser to the Governor (Strategy) Gidado Abdullateef Alakawa; Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Rafiu Ajakaye; community development expert Mr Lawal Olohungbebe; TUC Chairman Com Olumoh Kolawole Nasir; and NLC Chairman Com Aliyu Issa Ore.
The emir, who said the stay at home directive was the best strategy to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection, urged the people to abide by the government’s decision. He also called on well-to-do individuals to join the campaign in their own ways but without compromising the efforts to avoid community transmission.
The statement read in part: “This committee, which is an offshoot of the larger Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, was given the mandate to draw up the modalities for and supervise the distribution of the palliatives from the government and well-meaning members of the society who have donated to this humanitarian cause.
“This measure is government’s way of showing good faith and affection to the people who have been asked to stay at home on safety grounds. The committee therefore urges the well-heeled in the society to help the needy at this time, and commends all those who have donated to the government or are supporting the poor in their own way.
“Because of limited resources, the committee has given priority at this time to limited categories of our people who it considers to be very poor and worst hit by the directive. They are: the aged; the physically challenged; women, widows and widowers who are sole breadwinners of their families
Artisans who are dependent on daily earnings; and any other category that the committee deems fit.”
He also commended those who donated to the government, including the Road Transport Employers Association and the National Union of Road Transport Workers which have graciously volunteered to transport the food items free of charge.
“This (effort) is purely about helping the poor in our society to cope with the situation at hand. The committee urges all of us to continue to sensitise our people on the danger of this deadly virus and to encourage everyone to stay at home and stay safe. Stay safe,” he said.