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Lockdown: Global Igbo Peace Initiative calls for equity in distribution of palliatives

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A non-governmental organization,  Global Igbo Peace Initiative (GiPi), has called for equity in the distribution of palliatives to the vulnerable Nigerians in the face of hardships occasioned by lockdown of the country.  
In a statement issued by Com. Arthur-Regis Odidika, and Humphrey Kanayo Akaolisa, National Chairman and Chairman/Founder respectively, said, there must be a paradigm shift in how palliatives are distributed in order to capture the right people. 
The NGO which has been working with international and local institutions in the last seven years,  lamented that there was no reliable data currently for use in the distribution of palliatives, fearing that,  if the exercise was not handled with caution,  there could be protests.  
They further admonished government to manage the coronavirus pandemic to avoid devastation. 
The statement which was made available to CAPITAL POST in Abuja on Tuesday reminded the government that Nigeria was still the world’s poorest country, saying that the failure of the past and current administration was further exposed by the current confusion of how palliatives are handled.  
The statement reads:
“With the low capacity or total absence of a healthcare system, the prediction is that the epicenter of the current world pandemic will be Nigeria. 
“One great social issue that borders everybody about Nigeria is the poverty level of which Nigeria is currently ranked as the nation with the world’s poorest population (World Global Clock 2018). 
“Another important setback which has truly exposed the failure of current and previous administrations or the entire Nigerian system is lack of data. 
“The current expose has shown why administrations are prone to endemic failures because there is no way you can administer a population without proper or near accurate statistics and demographics of that population. 
“The coronavirus pandemic situation’s demand for palliatives to the poorer population has opened the weakness of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in statistical records and demographics. 
“It is against these backdrops, that GiPi is stepping up to make her own contributions towards solving an imminent catastrophe.At such points when the nation is confused, one would most expect the leaders to turn to the intellectual elite, the social scientists, philosophers on public affairs and theoreticians for pragmatic solutions. 
“Many notable Nigerians have spoken on the way and manner the palliatives are being effected and they are mostly concerned about accountability. 
“Some have solicited for the government providing the cost of materials to ensure transparent administration, but they all failed to point out the way to go. 
“This is the task where the government is at lost and totally lack creativity. It is not just about the approval of funds for the Government by the National Assembly, and bourgeoisies donating funds to the Government; the Presidential Taskforce has to tell the Nation how they intend to disburse or use these funds equitably. 
“Many voices have decried the equity in the distribution of palliatives which is one sided; regions are being marginalized. Lagos State Government has been criticized openly on the media by dissenting voices from the masses on the sizes, nature and manner of palliatives distributions. 
“So also the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management was faulted on the proposal on using bank accounts but excluding accounts with more than 5,000.
“Indirectly, accusing fingers are being pointed on officials as being corrupt as they made claims on distribution of huge amounts of palliatives already in rural communities. 
“The NASS is accused of demanding for cuts.There are rising crimes already. If the right things are not done now, Nigeria may be up for the worst. 
“The news is already reporting violent protests in parts of the country. Broad day robberies are witnessed in every nook and cranny in Lagos now. 
“The fear is that the situation will worsen as the lockdown continues. It will be senseless to think of government receding the lockdown as index cases are still on the rise all over the country. 
“The onus lies on every concerned Nigeria to think of how to help the Government that seems to be devoid of ideas at the moment. That is why Global Igbo Peace Initiative is stepping up to propose the following mechanism for Direct Cash Transfer as palliatives to the government or whoever is concerned.
The NGO insisted that the agency of government saddled with the responsibility for sharing palliatives was getting it wrong, suggesting that the use of voters cards was the best option.
“First, the NBS has proved to be a failure in statistical data and demographics of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria, it is therefore clear that what the Presidential Taskforce is doing through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management is devoid of equity and is not reaching the main people who need the palliatives at this moment. 
“The states they selected for the palliatives shows that they have a very wrong demographic. 
“On the  ther hand, some States have planned to start distribution of palliative with the elderly; people above 70 years in the communities, but does this standard define the most vulnerable? 
“Do the parents of billionaires and wealthy men in the villages who must be surely over this age limits also count as vulnerable people? 
“Other people had proposed on the media that the government should access the population through the Biometric Verification Numbers (BVN). 
“That would be a very wrong paradigm because the palliatives should be for the most vulnerable in the society. 
“Making use of BVN statistics will put the palliatives mostly in the hands of people who don’t need it. The bulk of the people it is meant for are mainly without any bank accounts.On the contrary, GiPi will suggest the following paradigm:
“Everybody who is at least 18 by 2019 had ample opportunity to enroll with INEC and should own a voters card. Registration was also free of any charges so nobody has excuse not to own one. 
“Each voter’s card is exclusive with a biometric unique code and a VIN number. The use of voter’s card will ensure that palliatives get to every adult regardless if he is in a household or just a miscreant roaming the streets. 
“Use of voter’s cards will also be good lesson to anyone who had not participated in the civic duty of an electorate which all Nigerians has the right and duty to get involved. 
“It will compel whoever had not registered or participated in voting to do so in the future.
“The government should choose one or more banks with good national spread especially to the rural communities. 
“All banks in Nigeria are already networked internally. So it is easy to create a wallet portfolio within the bank to manage the payment of cash all over the Federation without duplication. 
“The wallet portfolio will be used for all payments on the network. People are allowed 247 to go to the bank with their card and receive payments in small amounts weekly or one-time with their voter’s cards. 
“The first registration could be tied to an account for those who have bank accounts so that they may not need to return to the bank weekly for payment. 
“The bank must record the unique code and VIN number of all individual payments into the system. This will automatically block a duplicate payment to the same person anywhere in the country. 
“The records will also serve as transparent accounting record system.
“Government workers who already receive monthly salaries consistently within this period will be banned from receiving the palliatives.
“Depending on what the government deems fit, a certain level of staff may be considered. Those exempted will be made to face disciplinary actions as hard as termination of contract or suspension if they dare present themselves to take palliatives. 
“The bank must store pictures and biometric records of palliatives receivers in the system. They must also match the picture with that on the voter’s card.
“Political office holders, elite and very wealthy people will not take the risk or humiliation of being capture in pictures receiving palliatives, the system will serve as a sieve for those levels of individuals. 
“This system will ensure that all adult Nigerians receive palliatives. It will also ensure that those who do not need it may not come forward to the bank to ask for payment.
“The system will ensure transparency and accountability which all Nigerians seem to be clamoring for at this moment and ensure that there is no social, ethnic or religious discrimination.
“Since there is no sight to the end of the lockdown yet, meaning that this process may go on for a long time, the bank could spread it in such a way that there will be no crowds in the bank. 
“The simultaneous payment in all the branches will also ensure diffusion in the whole process. There is nothing wrong with people queuing up in the bank in so far as they observe the required social distancing. 
“Millions of people who lost their jobs in America queued up to register for palliatives with their social security numbers before they could receive the money in their bank accounts. 
“Thousands of people in Nigeria still go out to the ATM for cash daily, observing social distancing.
“This exercise will help to keep people busy within this period of lockdown and miscreants will leave the streets and have less time for misdemeanor. 
“The Federal Government should concentrate on Direct Cash Transfer and leave distribution of food and items to the States and Local Governments who are at the grassroots and have better statistics on their people”, the statement concluded.

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