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Saturday, 18 April 2020

COVID-19 palliatives: I stand by my comments, Ndume tells Presidency

COVID-19 palliatives: I stand by my comments, Ndume tells Presidency

Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South), on Friday, said he stands by his call for the immediate sack of the chairperson of the COVID-19 Palliatives Measures Committee of the Federal Government.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadia Umar Farouq, is the chairperson of the Committee.


Ndume’s reaction followed a statement from the Presidency that accused him of “politicizing a national emergency.”

The statement was signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Senator Ndume had on Thursday in Maiduguri criticized the mode of distribution of palliatives meant for poor and vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effect of the lockdowns aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19.

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The Borno South Senator had urged the Federal Government to withdraw the critical assignment from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and give it to a new body that will utilize governors of the 36 States as points of contact for the effective distribution of the palliatives across the country.

Ndume while speaking to reporters in Maiduguri on Thursday had said: “My concern is the manner and the way the COVID-19 palliative measures provided by the president is being handled or executed. We have received numerous complaints and it is actually very unfortunate.

“In fact, left to me, I am strongly calling for the humanitarian committee headed by the minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be dissolved with immediate effect and the president should as a matter of urgency, form a taskforce that would deal with issue of palliatives, headed by the military, police, civil defence, voluntary organisations and the NYSC among others.

“It should be formed as taskforce committee headed by governor of each state, and those materials or cash be allocated and distributed house to house, instead of fake or dubious way they have been handling the matter by just going to Television House or Government House to demonstrate.

“If you see a Minister or big person anywhere, going personally to do something, then know that there is something wrong.

“If not, what has the minister got to do with going from state to state to distribute palliative. They should be in the ministry monitoring the activities.

“While the pitiable situation of the poor is visible to everyone, few individuals are rushing to squander the money meant for the poor.

“We have reliable information that the names they generated are fake and that they conived with some of the banks to defraud the poor.

“It is better to stop the exercise because it is full of lies and if the president don’t do something to stop it now, we will end up investigating and later on going back and forward to the court.”

However, Garba Shehu in his statement on Friday accused Ndume of politicising a national emergency and challenged him to name the alleged kleptocrats in Buhari’s government.

Shehu in the statement urged Ndume to keep quiet as no serious government changes a winning team in a time of war.

The statement from the Presidency titled: “Senator Ali Ndume should figure out his mentioned kleptocrats around the President or be quiet ,” reads in part: “Claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should is not the same as presenting proof for such a claim.

“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing.

“A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.

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“At this difficult time of the battle by Nigeria against Coronavirus, everyone should help the fight and not seek to make political capital out of it, whatever his or her grievances”.

But Ndume in his reaction said he stands by his observations and recommendations as far as palliatives distribution in regards to the ongoing lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ndume who reacted through telephone conversation said having made his observations and recommendations known concerning the palliatives distribution, he is not ready to join issues with anybody.

He said: “I’m not ready to join issues with anybody on palliatives distribution having made my observations known based on information I got from the grassroots as a grassroots person.

“I’ve made my position known on the programme and I stand by it.”

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