No politics in distribution of palliatives — Commissioner

HAFSAT MOHAMMED BABA, the Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development,  oversees the distribution of palliatives to vulnerable people in Kaduna North Local Government area. The lifeline is supposed to provide succour to the less-privileged, owing to the lockdown to stop the spread  of the coronavirus pandemic in Kaduna State. In this interview, she gave an update on the distribution and allayed fears of discrimination.

Kaduna State Government has commenced the distribution of palliatives to vulnerable people, which is expected  to cushion the effects of the lockdown because of  the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are saying that the term vulnerable people is somewhat open-ended. In your evaluation, which group of people constitute the vulnerable?

Well, if you look at the vulnerability of an elderly person, is very obvious because he doesn’t have the strength to do any hard work because of age. May be also, that person suffers from ill health; these are  people who are hypertensive or diabetic or have one ailment or the other. That is one. Number two, there are widows, those that have lost their loved ones, their  bread winners and they have been left with children to cater for. These people are also vulnerable. There are people living with disabilities, in one way or the other. Some of them actually do menial jobs but it is nothing to write home about. So, we believe that these are  the vulnerable people that are supposed to be supported, who are supposed to be taken care of. And they are also supposed to be in our data base, so that Kaduna State can have statistics of the vulnerable people in the society. So, these were the criteria that we used to determine who these vulnerable people are.

How was the list of beneficiaries generated, was it based on party affiliations or religious inclinations?

Actually, we did not consider party affiliations. We looked at the whole people of Kaduna State, not minding religion, ethnicity or what have you. Election is over and Governor Nasir El Rufai is focused on governance. If you look at the roads that are being built and the various infrastructural projects that are being executed, is it only APC members  that follow these roads? Look at the improvements in the education and health sectors, are they not for the benefit of every citizen of Kaduna State?

What we did was to identify those people in communities that are leaders, those that people believe in. to identify households that are vulnerable. So, we considered the Imams because they have followership, the Pastors because they have congregations and women leaders.  In every cluster, we put these people together to form a committee of seven. We gave them the responsibility of actually identifying the vulnerable people for us because they live with them day in day out. That was how we were able to gather all these details because we are looking at households and not individuals. So, they came up with the list of households of these vulnerable people in the communities.

When we set up the committee of seven in each cluster, we left them to select their chairmen. And I’m sure, because of respect, they either selected   the District Head, the Imam or Pastor. Others were just  members.

Did government officials review the various lists to find out whether they were padded?

Yes, we did. When they were drawing up the list, we told them to include the addresses of these people and their telephone numbers, so that we can scrutinise the list. What we are now doing is to go house to house, call the numbers on the list and when the people come out, we make sure that they are the genuine people, before giving them the palliatives. We believe that when we put seven people together to draw up a list, we believe that there are going to do justice to their communities. This is because these people who were selected are responsible people in their communities.

We are running a transparent government and I want things to be transparently done. So, I am going to also list out the names of those committee members who drew up the list in all the clusters of Kaduna North local government area. I will share their  names  on social and mainstream media. So that people will really know the people who drew up the list of vulnerable people in their communities.

As at Saturday, the palliatives have only reached  Unguwar Rimi ward, when will the other 11 wards in Kaduna North local government  get their share?

Actually, we don’t use wards, we use clusters. So, we have 10 clusters. We started with Unguwar Rimi because they brought in their list on time. Even though the list was handwritten, I got some volunteers to typeset the names and printed them, so that we can be able to share the list with the media and anyone person that is interested. So, we are expecting other clusters to bring their list. But it is a little bit late today. Unguwar Rimi provided 905 households. So, these are the people that are going to benefit during this take off. By tomorrow, we expect to continue with the other clusters. Mark you, I’m only in charge of Kaduna North and not the entire state and we have 10 clusters, namely Badarawa, Unguwar Shanu, Abakpa, Unguwar Sarki, Unguwar Dosa, Kawo, Rafin Guza, Doka I and Doka II. In all,  8,000 cartons of Indomie would be distributed, along with 600 bags of rice, 1,032 packs of vegetable oil and 3,360 bags of Semovita to vulnerable people in Kaduna North. Others are 960 bags of sugar, 96 bags of beans and 1760 bags of cassava flour.

So, who is the overall chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee at the state level?

The overall chairman is the Secretary to Kaduna State Government, Alhaji Balarabe Abbas Lawal and the Secretary is Muhammad Hafiz Bayero, the Managing Director of Kaduna Markets Development Management Company. In Kaduna South, there is Commissioner for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Hussain, Chukun local government is headed by the Commissioner for Budget and Planning Commission, Mr Thomas Gyang, the Chairman of State Universal Basic Education Board,  Malam Abdullahi Sani in Gyellesu in Zaria. The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr Murtala Dabo will supervise the distribution in Kachai local government area. In Jema’a and Kaura local government areas, the exercise is  to be supervised by Dr Bege Katuka, Interim Management Committee Chairman of Kaura.

In the first phase of the distribution, nine local governments are being considered. What of the rest 14 local governments, does it is mean that they don’t have vulnerable people?

Nine local governments have been  initially considered but that does not mean that we will not reach out to the other local governments. As we are getting donations, so will we also be buying these relief materials and sending them to the rest local governments. It’s  a continuous exercise. We have  bank accounts whereby people are donating cash. We have already made the bank details available. We also have stores in the office of the Secretary to the State Government where we keep donations in kind. At the end of this exercise, we are hoping to publish the names of all those who donated, whether in cash or in kind, for the people of Kaduna State to see.

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