Palliative mismanagement, aggravation of COVID Impact


By Bashir Kabir

As the world slowly slides back to lockdown measures with the new COVID strains gaining strength, the world is massively going to depend on effective pandemic coping strategies.

The current wave of the pandemic directly attributed to the two strains of the COVID virus namely the UK and South African strains are responsible for the return to pandemic.

The U.K. detected two new variants of the coronavirus – one that was first found in the region and another first found in South Africa. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he believes the South African variant could be “even more of a problem” than the U.K. strain.

The prevalence of the new variants is not a surprise though, because experts predicted the possibility of the virus mutating to further prevail. Hence, there is no anticipation at the moment as to when the virus might be totally gone or rendered ineffective through drugs and vaccine. Meanwhile, the chances of converting it remain through effective coping measures and vaccines.

The importance of effective coping strategy in the areas of education, economy, work and most importantly health cannot be underestimated. Remote education system, for example, has become imperative to reduce physical social interactions that helps the spread of the virus.

The economy, on the other hand, is one of the sectors hit the hardest by the pandemic. The lockdown as absolutely necessary measure in controlling the spread of the virus has rendered thousands of businesses bankrupt. Poverty in Nigeria always ranks high, the pandemic is raising the number even higher.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the “2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria” report, which highlights that 40 percent of the total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year.

It is understood that the number has augmented with the last year’s impact of the COVID pandemic. Many businesses were closed as a result of going into lockdown. The palliative measure targeting the poor was defective and hence made the pandemic impact even more unbearable.

An effective COVID impact management will have to address the general palliative distribution method of last year, fish out the faults and strengthen the system for the future.

The federal government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) targeted at relieving hardship during lockdown was considered to be infested with faults. These relief measures hardly reach the rightful targets who are supposed to be those economically vulnerable.

The palliative process in the state level was equally faulted for lack of transparency and accountability of the whole procedure. The whole process is shrouded in mystery with no information made available of what actually happened.

A consortium of anti-corruption organisations under the Upright For Nigeria, Stand Against Corruption campaign demands that all governments must disclose to the citizens the value of money received for the COVID-19 donations and publish the list of beneficiaries of the palliative measures; establish a toll-free line for citizens to call and report any act of corruption regarding the palliative distribution. Government should ensure the law is applied where any official is found to be corrupt in the management of the COVID-19 palliative funds.

Other demands include the inclusion of citizens’ group made up of notable members of communities like traditional or religious leaders and Ward Committees to be part of the committee and task force for implementation.

There wasn’t information provided to the public on the above demands and certainly there wasn’t the vital inclusion of the citizens’ group in the process of the palliative distribution. These led to inefficient and skewed process as well as unaccountable procedure leaving millions in agony of the pandemic impact.

Without being modest, it is a fact worth stating that the palliative measure was misappropriated, diverted and fund embezzled by those at the helm of control. The #EndSars protest brought that to the daylight when warehouses across the country were breached revealing palliative items of all sort meant to be distributed several months before.

The government alone must not handle the palliative activities in future. Donors need to take part in the distribution process. Civil society bodies must be involved in the process and information of same must be made available to the general public for transparency and accountability.

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