By; OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti
Respite has come the way of residents of Ekiti State as the Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Monday flagged off the distribution of food items to cushion the effects of the curfew imposed on the state to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Fayemi stressed that the relief materials packaged in sacks will be distributed to the vulnerable segment of the population as a gesture to make life easier for them.
The Governor emphasized that the vulnerable segment of the population include the poor, the aged, the physically challenged, the unemployed adding that the project is being powered by the Ekiti COVID-19 Response Food Bank Drive.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony held at the Lady Jibowu Hall of the Government House, Ado-Ekiti, Fayemi also relaxed the dusk-to-dawn curfew and restriction of movement imposed to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Governor disclosed that residents of the state are free to move about on Tuesday,7th April and Thursday, 9th April between 6.00am and 2.00pm “to take the opportunity to restock and connect with those they have to connect with on a very important basis.”
Fayemi noted that the curfew was relaxed due to the fact that it was already one week old on Monday with one week to go urging the people “to persevere a little more in our best interest.”
While noting that the flag off was the first assignment he performed since getting out of isolation, Fayemi urged residents to cooperate with his administration to defeat COVID-19 adding that public places have been fumigated as part of measures to contain the pandemic.
The first phase of the distribution of food items, the Governor said, was targeting 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.
Fayemi who warned that the exercise has no political colouration, emphasised that they were not meant to be distributed on streets or political ward basis.
He further warned that the seals must not be tampered with until they get to the targeted beneficiaries.
He equally revealed that tough sanctions await any political office holder or private citizen who may want to divert the items or involve himself in any shady deal in their distribution.
Fayemi said: “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.
“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.
“As a responsible government, we deemed it necessary to reach out to the vulnerable ones in our society, despite the financial situation of the State Government, which is a direct reflection of the current global recession.
“This first phase of the package will be distributed to at least 20,000 vulnerable households across Ekiti State, while we are hoping to do more as resources permit.
“In addition to the relief materials being distributed today, the State Government is working out modalities on how to give financial assistance to those whose daily income is affected by this shutdown. We are doing everything possible to make sure that the stimulus gets to those who genuinely deserve it.”
On the relaxed curfew, Fayemi said: “It is globally accepted that the best approach, so far, to stop COVID-19 is by curtailing its spread. It was on this premise that a shutdown of Ekiti State for initial 14days was declared on Sunday, March 29, 2020 and with effect from 11:59pm on Monday,30th March, 2020 with the aim of protecting ourselves.
“The curfew is effectively one week old today. We still have a week more to go and I enjoin you all to persevere a little more in our best interest. But since this is the holy week, we have also decided to relax the curfew, so on Tuesday and Thursday this week, the curfew would be off from hours of 06.00 hours to 2.00pm for our people to take the opportunity to restock and to connect with those they have to connect with on a very important basis.
The Chairman of the state chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Dr. Amire Kola-Kolade, praised the Governor for bringing succour to the people at a very critical period.
Kola-Kolade, who doubles as Chairman of Ekiti Southwest Local Government promised to carry out the Governor’s order to ensure that the materials get to the targeted audience in the grassroots.
The ALGON chief pledged that the distribution will be devoid of political consideration and carried out in collaboration with traditional rulers and community leaders.