The Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) on Thursday raised concern over the mechanism put in place to distribute the N500 million worth relief items procured by the State Government to cushion the effect of stay-at-home order aimed at reducing the spread of ravaging Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The State’s Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, had on her Twitter handle, @HafsatMohBaba on Tuesday hinted that, the State Government had earmarked N500m to procure and distribute relief materials to the vulnerable persons in eight pilot local government areas, which has commenced on Wednesday.
But, KASPAC in a statement by its Chairperson, Jessica Bartholomew, after commended the State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai over his proactive measures towards containment of the spread of Covid-19 in Kaduna, expressed worry over the likelihood of relief materials not fully getting to the vulnerable as critical partners like civil society and media were excluded.
KADSPAC, is a network of active civil society and media partners working collaboratively to strengthen transparency and accountability in the Social Protection system in the State.
According to Jessica, “the Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) is calling on the Kaduna State Government to ensure social accountability and transparency in the distribution of relief materials to poor and vulnerable households largely affected by the lockdown of the state as part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pandemic”.
She said, the Coalition has the goal of ‘improved coordination and delivery of Social Protection programmes to benefit poor and vulnerable people in Kaduna state’.
To her, there is the need to jointly confront and defeat the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) ravaging the world,noting that, the Government has continued to take proactive measures to stop the spread of the virus among its citizenry as well as the laudable step to put relief measures in place to cushion the impact of the current lockdown across the state.
Her words, “we commend Gov Nasir El-Rufai and his Covid-19 emergency team for being decisive in communicating preventive measures that have culminated into the imposition of indefinite curfew on the State, as best alternative to preventing the spread of the virus in the state.
“We are aware that a sum of N500 million has been earmarked for the procurement and distribution of relief materials in eight pilot local government areas which are: Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, Chikun, Zaria, Sabon Gari, Kaura and Jema’a, covering the three geo political zones which is timely.
“However, while we are fully aware that due process and procedures in unusual times like this might be suspended in order to effectively confront humanitarian emergencies, the government needs to strengthen its fiscal transparency and accountability instruments.
“In addition, the deployment of information and communication mechanism are critical at ensuring citizens and civil societies are carried along in the interventions.
“We are concerned at the low level of information dissemination on the modalities for the distribution of relief materials in the pilot local government areas.
“There are fears that the composition of the state and local government committees is without the inclusion of active civil society, people with disabilities and media partners with the capacity to effectively proffer solutions, track and ensure that the relief materials get to the target beneficiaries.
“As you are aware, the State government has signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which is a commitment to reforms that ensure active citizen’s access to information and participation in government’s decision-making processes.
“The modalities for the constitution of the distribution clusters and the committees in the benefiting local government areas as well as the identification and selection of targeted beneficiaries were not clear.
“There are fears that the intervention might be hijacked by politicians with vested interest as the composition of the committees is rumored to include local government chairmen of the ruling political party. Some vulnerable groups are already concerned that they might not benefit from the intervention.
“We hereby recommend that inclusion of civil society and media partners with a track record of tracking governance processes in all the relevant committees and clusters.
“An official feedback and response channels should be established by the government to ensure accountability, create additional modalities to protect the distribution from hijack, for instance making public the disaggregated list of beneficiaries for follow-up and verification.”