Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to play politics with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to a comment made by the Lagos State chapter of the PDP describing the relief packages provided by the Lagos State government as a ruse and saying that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will be made to account for monies spent during the pandemic, the state APC spokesman, Seye Oladejo, said the opposition party has the habit of peddling falsehood.
Oladejo said the state government has since inception, been alive to its duty of the welfare and safety of its citizens and has been proactive in its response even before the index case of the COVID-19 pandemic and went a long way to stem its spread in the state.
“Our attention has been drawn to the characteristically irresponsible and reckless attempt of PDP in Lagos State to play bitter politics with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would ordinarily not have dignified the piece with a response but for the deliberate attempt to disseminate falsehood to the unsuspecting public. It was rather absurd and convenient to dismiss the efforts of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu-Olu, with a wave of the hand and toxic imagination.
“For all avoidance of doubt, this government since inception has been alive to its most important duty of the welfare and safety of its citizens. Without a doubt, its proactive response even before the index case of the COVID-19 pandemic went a long way to stem its spread in the state.
“No one without ulterior motives would fault the infrastructure- the infectious diseases hospital, the medical laboratory, the isolation centres set up by the state government. The State Government till date has been responding to the dictates of the pandemic with morale-boosting measures.
“Among others, the Lagos State Government decided to provide a novel food stimulus to the most vulnerable in our midst to cushion the impact of the statewide lockdown. The government also provided free medical services for certain categories of patients which includes surgery.
“Perhaps we should sympathise with the crass ignorance of the PDP leadership who, bereft of how things work in government might tend to jump to hasty conclusions.
“Serious and responsible governance which is the hallmark of the Lagos State government is totally different from running a tattered party.
“In response to the stay at home order in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and as envisaged by the Lagos State Government that there would be a shortage in food supply especially to the vulnerable, the State Government flagged off the emergency food response programme. Apart from reaching out to the vulnerable with the supply of staple food for 14 days in the first instance, the programme was to serve as a call for action to the private sector and other well-meaning Nigerians to contribute to ameliorating the effects of the pandemic and consequent stay-at-home order on the vulnerable.
“The Governor formally flagged off the programme on Friday 27th March 2020. The programme is aimed at distributing food packs to the vulnerable. The food pack consists of 5kg of Rice, 5kg of Garri, 3kg of Beans, 3 sachets of tomatoes/pepper paste and 2 loaves of 300g each bread. It is envisaged that each of these pack should feed a household of 6 for two weeks.
“So far, the State Government has been able to reach out to close to 90,000 households in 19 Local Government Area of the State namely: Agege, Apapa, Amuwo Odofin, Ikeja, Alimosho, Oshodi Isolo, Eti Osa, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Badagry, Epe, Ibeju Lekki, Kosofe, Shomolu, Surulere, Mushin, Ojo, Ifako-Ijaye and Ikorodu out of the first 200,000 households in the first instance.
“The programme is achieving its objectives because a lot of organisations have contributed to support the programme. In the same vein, the programme has created both direct and indirect jobs for a large number of people along the production line, which in its self is another form of palliatives.
“What the Government has done is to provide a palliative for most vulnerable households. It is just a relief and a substitute for loss of income. The Government is not punishing people by asking them to stay at home but a necessity. It is in our long term interest to be able to live and keep hope alive. The whole world is on lockdown. While our Government will not claim perfection in distribution of the palliative and we are improving on the strategy.
“With the success, the Lagos State Government is to extend the programme to another 250,000 households across the State and will re-strategize particularly in the area of channel of distribution to ensure that the target beneficiaries are reached. Thus the aged that are 60 years and above that are on the database of the Lagos State Government and have received text messages are expected to be taken care of during the implementation of the second phase of the programme. The package is meant for indigent communities and vulnerable households in the State. It is important to stress that the package is a palliative.
“It is also important to emphasise that the government have learnt a few lessons particularly on the channels of distribution during the first phase hence they have re-strategised and changed the mode of distribution for the second phase of the programme moving forward.
“However, we are not unmindful of the fifth columnists like the PDP cohorts who have embarked on sponsored social media activities to discredit the good intentions of government. Governor Sanwo-Olu will not be distracted by political charlatans seeking desperately for relevance,” Oladejo said.