Nigerians speak on government palliatives

KUNLE ODEREMI spoke with a section of Nigerians over the palliatives discourse.


Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide

THE school feeding programme is a good idea, if it can be properly managed. Since the commencement of the programme, it is yet to cover the 36 states. It is unfortunate private schools are not covered in the scheme presumably because the government thinks those who put their children in private schools can afford to feed the kids. But this is not true. Some parents pay their children fees with great pains. Most public schools are in deplorable state.

In any case, the Federal Government approach reduces the incidence of malnutrition in the country.


A prominent politician, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun

One advantage about the national broadcast is that at least, it has dispelled the rumour about his indisposition. But the speech as it relates to the issue of using the school feeding programme as a form of palliative is borne out of lack of preparedness, otherwise, how can anyone say at this particular time that such a measure can cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic?

So, I think it is a borrowed idea, because some other countries are giving out palliatives. And I strongly believe those countries have definite and workable statistical data that will make the exercise objective and transparent. In Nigeria, are they really prepared to know the number of children as the targeted beneficiaries? How will they determine it; how many of them are in private schools when we hardly keep records. Will it get to the rural areas that are sparsely accessible even by modern communication facilities? These (rural areas) deserve such palliatives most. That is one.

Two: with the prevalent socioeconomic crisis in the country, where will they get the funds when oil prices are crashing every day? Is the statement by the president not a ruse? That bothers me. If at all it must be adopted, there must be a broad-based national committee comprising the representatives of main stakeholders like philanthropists, leaders of political parties, scholars and jurists with proven integrity.


Senator Olu Alabi

Yes, this looks like another policy somersault. It sounds more like another campaign talk. How are we going to get the food to the pupils on a daily basis, especially with the total lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, and partial lock down in other states? It is just another talk show. Both the pupils in private and public will not be available, except the schools are reopened, which will contradict the government directives.


Acting National Chairman, Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Supo Shonibare

We are in an emergency situation which calls for a common nationalistic approach between the ruling party and the opposition parties to rescue us from this virulent pandemic ravaging even developed countries with good medical support system, which we know we have great deficiency of.

We, therefore, have to do all we can to activate the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) advice as enjoined by the president. We need to continue to practice social distancing, maintain a better state of hygiene by always washing our hands and staying at home. In the SDP, we have prohibited ward, local government and state meetings of members till, at least, April 30, in the first instance. We advised all members to stay in their homes, irrespective of whether or not they live outside the states. The president has directed residents to be on total lockdown for the next two weeks, until the spread or curtailment of this pandemic becomes more apparent.

We have, therefore, directed our members all over the country to stay at home, unless it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable to venture outside their homes.

On palliatives, it is understandable that the government will need to augment the subsidised a-meal-a-day school children feeding by channeling what has already being budgeted to the families. It may be more effective, if this is enabled by food supplies to the household of the students. Federal and state governments should also come up with food supplies palliative to assist the productive working class, the poor and the underclass in our society. Humanitarian efforts should not only be a tool adopted by churches, mosques and philanthropists to alleviate poverty. The government must also step up during this dire moment of helplessness and loss of wages of mostly daily paid self-employed income earners. This is an opportunity to have some documentation of those income earners.

It’s apparent that we have an imminent stormy economic downturn and challenging times ahead. Our major foreign exchange revenue source is oil and foreign remittances. Crude oil prices are crashing. Even before this crash in prices, our foreign debt profile was edging towards an unsustainable level. Foreign remittances are bound to be greatly affected by the economic downturn all over the world, all at the same time. We must continue to be able to fund the importation of essential raw materials and medical indispensable products. We must not sleep walk into a state of economic disaster and social upheavals. We need to take proactive actions now. We need to drastically clamp down on profligacy and have a bias towards investment expenditure and not consumption.

The executive and legislature, both at the federal and state levels, surely cannot justify continuing recurrent expenditures. The Presidency should take the lead and enable a 50 per cent reduction in recurrent expenditures and downsise long list of political appointments. This will put pressure on the National Assembly and state governments to emulate the Presidency. This is a great opportunity to display empathising with the reducing purchasing power of every Nigerian.


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