The Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has flagged off the distribution of food items to about 20,000 households across the state as a palliative for the harsh economic conditions caused by the lockdown to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
He said the state government has also reviewed and relaxed the curfew imposed on the state, to allow residents move freely on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 a.m to 2 p.m.
The curfew was imposed about a week ago to check the spread of the disease, particularly with the recording of one confirmed case earlier in March.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the Governor’s Office on Monday, Mr Fayemi said the relief materials packaged in sacks would be distributed to the vulnerable to make life easier for them.
He said intended beneficiaries include the poor, the aged, the physically-challenged,and the unemployed.
He also said that the project was powered by the Ekiti COVID-19 Response Food Bank Drive.
On the curfew, Mr Fayemi explained that residents would be free to move about on Tuesday and Thursday for eight hours each day “to take the opportunity to restock and connect with those they have to connect with on a very important basis.”
He said the first phase of the distribution would target not less than 20,000 households already registered on the Vulnerable People’s Support Programme domiciled at the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning which covers all the 16 local government areas of the state.
The governor warned that the exercise had no political colouration and would not be distributed on streets or political ward basis.
He further warned that the seals must not be tampered with until they got to the targeted beneficiaries.
He equally revealed that tough sanctions awaited any political office holder or private citizen who may want to divert the items or involve themselves in any shady deal in their distribution.
“These packs are not meant to be distributed for streets or wards to share. Under no circumstances must the seal on the packs be tampered with till they get to the identified beneficiaries,” the governor warned.
“Ekiti-kete, I assure you all that this exercise has no political colouration. The allocations will be depoliticised, therefore our community and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers, are actively involved to ensure smooth distribution of the items.
“I urge those saddled with the responsibility of distributing these relief materials to ensure that they reach the most vulnerable people in our communities and households across the State.
“The targeted beneficiaries are the aged, less fortunate and the physically challenged in Ekiti State.
“Any government official or private citizen involved in unscrupulous practices with regards to the distribution of these items will be severely sanctioned.”
The wife of the governor, Bisi Fayemi, in her remarks recalled that the Ekiti Food Bank initiative was launched in 2012 during the first term of her husband to assist the less privileged.
She said her husband ordered that the Food Bank be revived as a palliative measure to assist the people tackle the effects of COVID-19.
She said the scope was expanded to cater for the needs of the larger segment of the population to bring relief to them in line with government’s determination to care for its citizens.
The chairman of the state chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Amire Kola-Kolade, lauded the governor’s initiative to bring succour to the people at a very critical period.
Mr Kola-Kolade, who is Chairman of Ekiti Southwest Local Government, promised to carry out the governor’s order to ensure that the materials got to the targeted audience in the grassroots.
He also assured that the distribution would not be influenced by politics and would be carried out in collaboration with traditional rulers and community leaders.
Mr Fayemi had earlier constituted a committee to help mobilise resources to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The committee, which is officially known as Ekiti State COVID-19 Response Resource Mobilisation Committee, has three former governors namely AyonFayose, Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni, as we as the Afe Babalola, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti.
The state has recorded two cases of the virus, and the index case has been discharged after testing negative for the virus.
Mr Fayemi had also gone into self isolation, but later tested negative for the virus, and only emerged from his isolation on Monday.