By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Hours after attack from the presidency over his call for immediate sack of COVID 19 Palliatives Measures Committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadia Umar Farouq, Senator Ali Ndume said he stands by his position on the programme.
Senator Ndume (APC Borno South) had on Thursday in Maiduguri picked holes in the way and manner distribution of palliatives to indigent Nigerians at this critical time of Coronavirus lockdown, is being handled by the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.
Ndume who kicked against the modus operandi being adopted by the Ministry in a chat with journalists, said the emergency national assignment should be taken away from the ministry and given to a fresh committee that will use governors of the 36 States as links of distribution across the federation.
“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 in 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”.
But the Presidency on Friday in Abuja through a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhamnadu Buhari on Media , Garba Shehu , accused Ndume of politicising a national emergency and challenged him to name the alleged kleptocrats in Buhari’s government.
Garba Shehu in the statement , admonished Ndume to keep quiet as according to him, no serious government changes a winning team in times of war .
The statement 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.
“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 in his reaction to the statement , Ndume said he stand by his observations and recommendations as far as palliatives distribution arising from COVID 19 is concerned.
Ndume who reacted through telephone conversation however said he was not ready to join issues with anybody having made his observations known.
“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 have made my position known on the programme and I stand by it”, he said.