Senator Ali Ndume, the lawmaker representing Borno South senatorial district, has insisted that the palliatives intended to be given by the Federal Government to cushion the impact of the novel Coronavirus is being used to defraud Nigerians.
Senator Ndume, who serves as the Senate Committee on Army, stated this in an interview.
In a chat with journalists on Thursday, the federal lawmaker alleged that the resources meant to purchase the palliatives were been squandered by some unnamed Nigerians.
The former Senate leader called for the disbandment of the Palliatives Measures Committee headed by Sadia Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“My concern is the manner and the way the COVID-19 palliative measures provided by the president is being handled or executed. We have received numerous complaints and it is actually very unfortunate.
“In fact, left to me, I am strongly calling for the humanitarian committee headed by the minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be dissolved with immediate effect and the president should as a matter of urgency, form a task force that would deal with issue of palliatives, headed by the military, police, civil defence, voluntary organisations and the NYSC among others.
“It should be formed as taskforce committee headed by governor of each state, and those materials or cash be allocated and distributed house to house, instead of fake or dubious way they have been handling the matter by just going to Television House or Government House to demonstrate.
“While the pitiable situation of the poor is visible to everyone, few individuals are rushing to squander the money meant for the poor,” he said.
Senator Ndume’s claim was, however, disputed by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
In a statement on Friday, Shehu said it is disappointing of the politician to call out “unnamed individuals in the administration and accuse them of unknown transgression”.
The statement read: ” Senator Ali Ndume should figure out his mentioned kleptocrats around the President or be quiet.
“Claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should is not the same as presenting proof for such a claim.
“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing.
“A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.
“At this difficult time of the battle by Nigeria against Coronavirus, everyone should help the fight and not seek to make political capital out of it, whatever his or her grievances.”
Reacting to the presidential spokesperson’s statement, Ndume said he is not ready to join issues with anybody as he has made his position known on the matter.
“I’m not ready to join issues with anybody on palliatives distribution having made my observations known based on information I got from the grassroots as a grassroots person.
“I’ve made my position known on the programme and I stand by it,” he told Tribune.