A South-East group, Igbo Renaissance Forum has knocked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government over its approach to the N20,000 stimulus package for the ‘poorest in the society.’

The group said it was baffling that the government decided to share a total of ₦52bn to 2.6 million poor families in cash, without a clear system for accountability and transparency.

The Forum described as shocking government decision to give cash to individuals across the table, adding that by this, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, had flouted the government’s order on social distancing and clearly contravenes the money laundering Act.

Calling for accountability, the Forum demanded that the ministry should immediately make available on their website, the details of those who were benefiting from the stimulus exercise.

“It has also become very evident that the preparedness level of the Federal and State Governments is nothing to write home about. We were caught napping, even though citizens were told that there was full proof readiness by government,” the group said in a statement signed by its international Coordinator, Nze Ugo-Akpe Onwuka (Oyi).

It added that, “This we view as capable of completely eroding the little trust the citizens have for the political leadership in place today.

“There is a complete failure from the state to the federal level, including the National assembly that is abnormally obsessed with sucking the nation dry; sharing exotic cars in the middle of a health crisis and still bent on spending a whopping 37 billion on the renovation of the National Assembly building while the federal government went BEGGING for ventilators to keep themselves and the citizens alive. What a shame!

“We are aware that the Federal Government has announced palliative measures, which included disbursement of stimulus cash of twenty thousand naira to the ‘poorest in the society’ as they claimed.

“It is, however, very shocking to see the crudest form of disbursement of the stimulus cash that would give medieval men goose bumps, as cash is given to individuals across the table.

“Equally perplexing is the claim that 2.6m million individuals would benefit from N20,000 CORONAVIRUS palliative immediately, even as the 11,400 others are still to benefit. What baffles us is that government says it plans to share a total of ₦52bn to 2.6 million poor families IN CASH, without a clear system for accountability and transparency!

“We demand that in this period of very lean resources, that the ministry should immediately make available on their website, the details of those who are benefitting from this stimulus exercise.

“We want to state categorically that we are far from convinced with the figures put out on the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty, which is clearly defined by UN standards as those living below $1.90 per day.

“This figure according to the World Poverty Clock stands at 95,903,776 million or 48% of our 201,623,008 million population.

“It is, therefore, absurd to read the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq state that the social national register that we have as at March 31, 2020 is made up of 11,450,537 poor and vulnerable people in 35 states and 453 Local Government Areas across the country. We demand to know the fate of those that are not captured in this exercise.

“We, however, wish to condemn in very strong terms, the approach adopted by the ministry for sharing this stimulus cash. It very clearly contravenes the money laundering Act and we demand immediate explanation to the citizens for such action.

“We also want to make it known to the honourable minister that she broke the social distancing policy in the fight against COVID-19. It’s unfortunate to hear her try to justify the situation by saying that while those involved with the CRUDE TABLETOP MONEY SHARING maintained safe social distance, that it was onlookers who gathered to watch the SHOW that didn’t observe safe distancing.

“We ask that she immediately apologize to the public for shifting the blame. If the honourable minister and her team electronically credited everyone that needs to receive the stimulus cash as it should have been.

“If due diligence was done by the minister and her team, there won’t be any MONEY SHARING SHOW for the poor masses to crowd around, breaking safe distancing rules and exposing themselves to COVID-19 infection.

“We have cause to believe that the South East has not been adequately factored into the disbursement bracket of the ministry for this palliative.

“We demand that the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq make public the register that is being used for these disbursements so we can verify that the South East is not relegated and short-changed as we have seen severally.

“We shall continually sustain our demand through legal means until we are satisfied that there is equity in the actions of the ministry.”

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