Date: 18th /4/2020
CSO/MEDIA COVID-19 SITUATION ROOM LAUD GOVERNOR WIKE’s MOVES TO INCLUDE THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE PALLIATIVES COMMITTEE:
It is no news that the cause of the COVID-19 lockdown in Rivers State and across the country has placed enormous burden on the people due to the ongoing effort of government putting measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 deadly virus. In a bid to cushion the harsh economic impact of the lockdown, the Rivers State Government did set up a food palliative committee which was headed mainly dominated by party men and few others in the state.
After a careful follow up to the process of the constitution of the committee, the CSO/MEDIA COVID-19 Situation Room questioned why there was no inclusion of Civil Society Organizations members or even the Red Cross and the media to the committee in other to promote transparency in the process of distribution.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, in a press briefing update on the development of COVID-19 in Government House Portharcourt 17th/4/2020, yielded to earlier call by the CSO/MEDIA COVID-19 Situation Room to include CSOs and the media to the food palliatives committee. The governor said he has instructed them to add five (5) Civil Society Members to the Committee so they can monitor and record the process. The Situation Room undoubtedly commend the governors resolve to listen to the people and this however, reflects the success of our advocacy and ability to acts as the society’s watchdog.
It would be recalled that the situation room raised concerns that the lockdown and closure of regular markets had resulted to job loss and affected the income for poor people in the state, who earns a living on a day to day menial jobs.
Responding to this development, Comrade Green Isaac, the Co-secretary of the Situation Room noted that the idea is to monitor the activities of the committee to ensure fairness in the food distribution process while commending the efforts of the Government in doing everything to keep the state safe. Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu lauded the effort, noting that this shows the government is responsive of constructive suggestions and ideas aimed at moving the state forward.
While this is a welcomed development, The Situation Room calls on the Rivers State government to investigate and address the issue of food hijacking and racketeering in different communities, where food palliatives meant for the less privileged are hijacked by the people involved in the distribution, and equally take appropriate action to forestall such attempt. Furthermore, we call on the state government to ensure that all donations raised to fight the pandemic in the state are meticulously used and accounted for to effectively pursue the implementation measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The Situation Room also commends the Government for the measures taken in other to buy farm produce and food items directly, and in the open from the farmers in the different rural communities instead of giving money to Local Government Chairmen to purchase the items as its was earlier done, this we see as sound commendable leadership style as needed now.
Signed for the Situation Room
Stevyn Obodoekwe Co- Chair
Sebastian Kpalap Co- Chair
Karl Chinedu Uchegbu Spokesman
Green Isaac Co-Secretary
Prince Ekpere Co-Secretary
Vivian Bellownu Convener