By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has advised the Federal, state and local government authorities to create feeding centres urgently in order to cushion the effect of the extension of COVID-19 lockdown.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari extended the lockdown by two weeks in his broadcast yesterday, Monday, 14th April 2020.
MURIC gave this advice in a press statement issued by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 15th April, 2020.
“Though the extension is our best option if we don’t want to see Nigerians dropping dead on the streets, the federal, state and local governments must change their method of distributing palliatives. The idea of sharing raw foodstuff is not working. This method is being abused by corrupt officials. Much of the foodstuff is being diverted. It is not reaching the poor masses.
“Governments at all the three tiers must device means of making diversion of palliatives unwise, cumbersome, unprofitable and therefore unnecessary. This can be achieved by organizing central feeding points in all communities at the local, state and federal levels. The same foodstuffs that are being distributed can be opened up, cooked and served in take-away packages for distribution among hungry Nigerians.
“It will be unthinkable for corrupt officials to divert up to a quarter of cooked food without making a mess of their own houses, stores and offices. They will have no option than to distribute the take-away packages as arranged.
“Neither should distribution be a problem. Why is it easy for the electricity companies to reach every nook and cranny in the communities to distribute bills and collect money from poor Nigerians but difficult to locate the same poor people when distributing palliatives? Why is it possible for politicians to knock on every door on the street when soliciting for votes but impossible for the same politicians to share food to hungry people on the same street?
“Politicians should stop deceiving poor Nigerians. Most senators and members of the House of Representatives are yet to visit their constituencies during this COVID-19 saga. They are yet to sympathise with their constituents and ask what they need and how they are coping.
“We are constrained to cry out to the three tiers of government. Nigerians are hungry. Whole families are starving. Most of the raw foodstuff that are meant for poor Nigerians did not reach them. Whole areas have been neglected. Many streets did not see a single ‘derica’ of rice or gari. While we appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government in ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians, we lay emphasis on the need to change the modus operandi.
“Hunger has produced its natural backlash in form of the astronomical rise in criminal activities in Abuja and Lagos. Young gangsters are attacking neighbourhoods in daytime. Gunshots now rent the air at night in places that have been peaceful for years. Parents cannot control the youth because they cannot feed them. Hunger has neutralized loco parentis and the moral right to question the young ones has vanished into thin air. The new audacity of gangsters in Lagos is an indication that the palliatives are not being delivered to the targeted recipients. Lagosians are hungry.
“One way out of this is for employers of labour to pay their workers very early this April particularly in places like Lagos and Ogun States. This will enable millions of working parents to feed their family. The young ones will stop raiding their neighbours’ houses once there is food at home.
“MURIC calls on all government officials involved in the distribution of palliatives to fear Allah. Each of you will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement. The federal, state and local government may not see you but Allah can see everything you are doing and the angels are recording every move of yours. You will be shocked when you are confronted with the video shot by angels showing how and where you hid foodstuffs meant for the poor, how you made hundreds of Nigerians suffer and how you sold foodstuff meant for the poor. If COVID-19 is real, al-Qiyamah is reality incarnate. You will certainly render accounts.
“In our closing remarks, we advise the authorities to stop distributing raw foodstuffs which are subject to diversion. Instead, they should create feeding centres and share out cooked foods in take-aways. We also call for early payment of workers’ salaries to enable parents effectively keep their children at home thereby reducing the incident of gangsterism.