The President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr Joe Oke-Odumakin, has demanded for transparency and accountability toward the distribution of COVID-19 relief materials to the aged, physically challenged and most vulnerable households in the country.
Okei-Odumakin, who made the demand in an interview in Lagos, Wednesday, noted that individuals and institutions had been donating money and relief materials to fight the Coronavirus pandemic in the country and such items should not be diverted into wrong hands.
She said: “The relief materials are a welcome development but accountability and transparency must be ensured in managing those funds. We must not allow the experiences of the past, where funds donated for such interventions are mismanaged by a few.
“In that regard, agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC, must from this moment, begin to monitor every financial dealings relating to the COVID- 19, at all levels.’’
Okei-Odumakin said the group had heard about series of such palliative measures coming from the Federal Government and some state governments, particular Lagos, to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the citizenry.
She, however, alleged that there was already an abuse and hijack of the process by some politicians.
Okei-Odumakin said the allegation was already defeating the purpose which was mainly aimed at assisting the indigent and most vulnerable ones among us.
According to her, the group is demanding that a sincere approach must be deployed immediately, otherwise, this will end up as another looting spree of public funds.
Okei-Odumakin urged governments at all levels to really explore all the measures they could in alleviating the suffering of the citizens due to the sit-at-home order by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She noted that there were still better approaches of dealing with the issue and government should consider engaging such process.
Okei-Odumakin said various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) had been donating medical and food materials to provide support and succour in these trying times.
She said various private organisations and individuals had been doing same within their limited capacities.
According to her, the call is also on all Nigerians, particularly in those states under lockdown, to assist as much as possible, people within their neighbourhood at this crucial moment.
Okei-Odumakin said the group was currently working on series of advocacy on COVID- 19.
She said: “Our main focus has been on educating Nigerians on the need to abide by every directive and comply with all given guidelines toward limiting wider spread of the coronavirus.
“We have also given our bit of palliatives to some widows and vulnerable people within Lagos and healthcare workers. Our effort is on the frontline in the fight against the Coronavirus outbreak but a united effort will help defeat the disease.’’
Okei-Odumakin, whoalso warned that the outbreak could persist, if Nigerians did not follow precautionary measures in place by the federal and state governments, said the pandemic would only be defeated through a collective effort.
She, therefore, commended the health care workers and other essential workers for their selfless efforts at this trying period.
Okei-Odumakin said together they would tackle the disease, saying that if they remained united and resolute, then Nigeria would overcome the pandemic. (NAN)