John Adams, Minna
The ongoing investigation by the Niger state House of Assembly into the activities of the state TaskForce on COVID 19 took a dramatic dimension at the weekend when the House discovered a secret warehouse where food items contributed by individuals and corporate organizations for palliatives were stacked.
The food and other items worth millions of Naira donated to the state government for onward distributions to the people as palliative to reduce the hardship being experienced as a result of the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of Coronavirus were discovered in different warehouses in Minna, the state capital.
Worried by the outcry from members of the public on ways and manner in which the state TaskForce on COVID-19 headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ibrahim Metane, handled its activities, including how the monies approved for the committee were expended, the house set up an adhoc committee to investigate the activities of the committee.
The committee which is chaired by Mallam Malik Madaki Bosso, the member representing Bosso constituency, after two weeks of sitting decided to visit these warehouses where these items are being stacked following tip off from the public.
The warehouses visited by the House Members include stores belonging to the state Supply Company and Agriculture Development Programme (ADP) both in Minna, the state capital where they discovered that thousands of bags of rice, spaghetti, vegetable oil, among other items were being stacked, and are rotting away.
The Legislators who could not believe that such items meant to be distributed as palliative to the public amidst hardship being faced by the people could be stacked to the extend of rotting away, expressed disappointment over the action of the COVID-19 TaskForce for not considering the Plights of Masses.
The principal store officer with the state supply company, Alhaji Abdullahi Kasimu who took the members round the store claimed that the Task Force was yet to develop a template for the distribution of the items three months after they were donated.
Also defending the action of the Taskforce, the Chairman who is also the Secretary to the State Government told the members that the distribution could not be done haphazardly, hence the delay.
It could be recalled that the Taskforce had earlier in march at the heat of lockdown said that it has flag off the distribution of palliative to the people across the 25 local government areas of the state.
The Chairman of the Taskforce had also told the house adhoc committee when he appeared before it that the COVID 19 committee has so far expended N795,015,000 to fight the spread of pandemic in the state, including providing palliative to the public.