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Don’t use COVID-19 relief materials for political patronage – Prof Olurode

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A not- for- profit foundation, The Wings Schools Bridge Educational Foundation with headquarters in Iwo has commenced distribution of food items (beans and gari) worh over half a million to deserving members of the public.

Prior to the distribution, a training session was held for 13 volunteers on how to identify the poorest of the poor at the community level.

Participant were urged not to use the distribution of relief materials which were procured with donations from public spirited individuals to create additional social misery. Only the deserving poor should benefit.

Volunteers at the first stage were mainly to compile profile of potential targets following which proper identification will be carried out.

The next stage will be to move the relief materials quietly to the doorstep of the poorest. Some determinant factors which were spelt out included but not limited to the following: income and literacy status, house ownership, recipient of income transfer, physical features, ownership of assets and receipt of relief materials from other sources.

In the course of identification, the 13 volunteers located 250 individuals in the first instance all of who operate in the informal sector without regular income, with almost nil asset, majority of who are widows and widowers, reside in unbefitting shelter, old and fragile and who are on the fringes of social existence. Each of the package is worth one thousand naira or more and can last a family of three for almost a week.

The lead trainer, Prof. Lai Olurode of the University of Lagos lampooned a situation whereby different state actors involved in the distribution of relief items were doing so without prior identification of targets and without networking among concerned agents in order to avoid duplications.

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He argued that poverty alleviation strategies must be data driven, otherwise it will be a free reign of chaos and fiasco as had been witnessed in some cases.

Beneficiaries may feel humiliated and insulted. Without decency in distribution, beneficiaries may abandon the relief items and walk away with a sense of misery, agony and psychological trauma. While commending governments at all levels for its social intervention programmes, he, however, advised that for the poor to exit poverty, rigorous social data is required.

What we have at present is consolidation of political patronage and reaching out mainly to party men and women.

COVID-19 has thereby presented an opportunity for Nigeria to commence data gathering at the grassroots that will identify the poor and their locations so that the political class and their lackies can put a stop to compiling ghost names as beneficiaries.

Among the leaders of the different groups and participants at the training session were Prince Dauda Abimbola, a retired civil servant and media practitioner, Deaconess Bolanle Moyinwin, a retired school principal, Ustaz Ishaq Usaefat, a school teacher and the principal of The Wings Schools, Iwo, Osun State, Alhaji Abdulateef Nafiu. Professor Olurode commended Nigerians generally that rather than dampening their sense of doing good to others, COVID-19 had ignited the resilient attribute of Nigerians in being their brothers keeper, a characteristic that is often a pre-condition and social capital for development.

There cannot be a better impetus for social cohesion and solidarity. Among donors to the fund were Princess Atoke Lamuye, a retired civil servant based in Abuja, Alhaj Musbaudern Makanjuola, formerly of NESTLE, Engr. Idris Jabar, a Lagos based solar expert Alhaji Adamu Ibrahim Wanki, an Abuja based businessman, Alhaji Kabiru Alabi of The Gaurdian Newspaper, Mr. Wale Adeleke who is based in Ghana and Prof. Moses Fawole, formerly of the University of Ilorin among others.

The second round of social intervention to address pains of lockdown under the auspices of The Wings Schools Bridge Educational Foundation, an NGO formed in 2013 with the main mandate of bridging the gap between the affluent and poor come up in the next two weeks.

Nigeria News

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