The news making waves right now is the discovery of warehouses, where COVID-19 palliatives were stored by the state governments. The first time I saw the video of the Lagos warehouse, I was like, “It is not possible”. I told the person that sent the video to me that there is confusion all over the country and that people are making use of it. I also told her that people’s private businesses are being looted in different parts of the country and that it is possible that the video was from one of them. Well, the response I got for my doubt was more videos.
Ok, I actually saw sacks of food with “Ca-COVID” written on them, but I didn’t believe that the government would sponsor the purchase of food items and then store them to waste. I had always thought that the huge amount of money released for the COVID-19 palliatives were never utilised. Who would have thought that these food items were stored in big warehouses instead of being distributed to the needy? Who would have believed that the government even spent the money when it was certain that the items purchased won’t reach those they were meant for? I mean, why would they bother buying those items in the first place?
Honestly, Nigeria is a stage and many of us are the actors. Some things that happen here do not make sense. If you start analysing why those food items were left to rot instead of sharing them, you will get confused. If you start wondering why the items were bought and abandoned when the officials would have diverted the funds, you will be stuck halfway. If you begin to ask yourself if the officials planned to sell the food items, you might make mistakes. A lot of things don’t add up.
But looking at what I saw in those warehouses, it is now obvious to me that the federal government actually released funds for the relief materials. It is now obvious that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs actually sent palliatives to all the states during the pandemic. It is now obvious that our problems do not only come from the federal government but also from states and local governments. This doesn’t mean that I am exonerating the FG in this case because they should have demanded for the description of how the items were shared. When we raised our voices to accuse them as giving “audio palliatives”, they should have asked for the list of the beneficiaries. They should have told us who to hold accountable. They should have shown evidence that they handed over these materials to our governors and that our local government chairmen are the ones that will ensure that we received those materials. But no, they went mute and ignored us. And like other government things, this one too was allowed to spoil.
But, from what I am seeing, almost every state in the federation has reports of looted COVID-19 palliatives. I mean, news keeps coming in about states, where people have discovered the warehouses that held the palliatives and it is showing that many states are guilty. What I don’t understand is if these governors had a meeting to keep those things for a particular reason. Maybe they have other intentions for them. For instance, someone said that flood victims in Anambra State were usually given those palliatives and that the governor shared palliatives to the poor every now and then. Does it mean that they reserved those ones in the warehouse for cases of emergency? Are they foreseeing that the country might face another occasion for palliatives? Like I said, a lot of questions are begging for answers.
But then, for the people bringing themselves too low to the extent of looting, be it from the government or from private individuals and organisations, I hope they understand that taking what wasn’t given to them is stealing. I hope they understand that there are people that need those items more than they do and that they should demand that the needy receive what is due them. I hope they understand that by looting, they are directly doing that which they speak against. I hope they understand that their action just revealed that they would do the same thing the politicians do if they were given the opportunity. I hope they will come to believe me if I say that “We are all guilty of what our society has become.”