The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has denied the allegation that state governors hoarded relief materials that were meant to be distributed to Nigerians during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 palliatives were distributed by the federal government to states while some were donated by individuals to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.
But in the past few days, several warehouses filled with these relief materials have been discovered across the country resulting in the looting of these food items.
In a statement by Abudulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, its head of media and public affairs, the NGF described the allegation as “inaccurate, entirely erroneous and untrue but also mischievous”.
It said until mid-October, about 10 states had not begun the distribution of palliatives in their states because the relief materials had not been completely received from the private sector coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
It said some of the states still had the relief materials in their warehouses as a reserve ahead of a projected second wave of the coronavirus.
“The NGF regrets the loss of lives and property occasioned by the violent protests that erupted, and calls for calm,” the forum said.
“The NGF reemphasises and corrects the impression that palliatives found in warehouses that were broken into in Lagos and some other states were kept in storage for members of the society, especially our vulnerable citizens.
“The erroneous impression in the public domain that these palliatives were hoarded is not just inaccurate, entirely erroneous and untrue but also mischievous, to say the least.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, some of the palliatives had the CACOVID stamp embossed on them, meaning that their source is unambiguous.
“As we know, CACOVID operations are mainly domiciled in Lagos, being the headquarters of most of the public-spirited organisations, corporate bodies and individuals that came together to form the Coalition Against COVID-19 -CACOVID.
“Until mid-October, when the NGF had its last meeting, up to ten states had not participated in the flag-off ceremonies for the distribution of palliatives in their states. This was because the items meant for distribution in these states had not been completely received from CACOVID.
“Some other states that still had palliatives in their warehouses chose to keep a strategic reserve ahead of a projected second wave of COVID-19.
“As of a couple of weeks ago, some states were still receiving palliatives from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“The NGF wishes to state categorically that no State has been involved in or has hoarded any palliatives.”
It assured all contributors to the palliatives that prior to the looting of these warehouses, states had kept full accounts of all the items received and distributed.
It asked the public to “check their facts and should be careful not to damage ourselves by pushing the wrong narrative”.
“The State Governors are doing their very best under the circumstances to ameliorate the needs of the teeming population,” it added.
“The Nigeria Governors’ Forum stands for justice, improved governance and a progressive Nigeria.”