COVID-19:Persons with disabilities excluded from palliative, shut out by banks in Akwa Ibom
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, SSG and Chairman, Incident Management Committee on COVID-19, Akwa Ibom state.

Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Coordinator, Incident Management Committee on COVID -19, Akwa Ibom state.

Policy Alert has told the Akwa Ibom State Incident Management Committee on COVID-19 to be transparent with data on her response to the pandemic.

Policy Alert, a non-governmental organisation working to improve social, economic and environmental development in Nigeria, urges the committee to be more exact with data about testing, available facilities, spending and distribution of palliatives as part of the COVID-19 response in the state..

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The organisation in a statement in Uyo, signed by her Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Utibe Archibong, said citizens of the state are not receiving the right set of data to trust that government is doing the right thing on their behalf.

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“As the government is under pressure to respond to the immediate health and socio-economic consequences of COVID-19, it is easy for rapid response measures to trump open government approaches and we fear that this may result in a significant roll-back of most of the modest gains the state has made in citizens participation, transparency and accountability.”

“Right now, Akwa Ibom people do not have access to the most important data sets needed for citizens to trust that government is doing the right thing on their behalf in response to this crisis.”

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“We call on government to be more transparent with data on the number and profiles of persons being tested, the state of emergency health facilities, procurement decisions, spending details, donations and the distribution of palliatives to the poor as part of the state’s COVID-19 response.”

The organisation also tasked the state government to publish donations its has received for the COVID-19 response and how they are utilized.

While applauding the state government’s intention to provide palliatives to citizens to cushion the impact of the 14 days lockdown, the organisation urged the government to involve community representatives, the media and civil societies in the process.

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“All over the world, corrupt officials and contractors often exploit government’s good intentions in crisis situations to enrich themselves at the expense of the suffering public. Emergency procurement and other ad hoc actions are highly vulnerable to corruption risks.

“This is also a time when state actors can build the much needed trust with citizens by being upfront with information on what they are doing, and especially by carrying professionals, community representatives, the media and civil society groups along.”

Policy Alert called on civil societies and the media to be ready to monitor the delivery of the palliatives, noting that such third – party – tracking will enhance public trust in the process and ensure that it responds effectively to the needs of citizens.