Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the Anambra State COVID-19 account is the hallmark of corruption, fraud, arbitrariness as well as outright disregard for due process.
The state chairman of the party in Anambra, Hon. Ndubuisi Nwobu, in a statement, emphasized that the party frowned on the idea of Governor Willie Obiano being the chairman of the state Covid19 account committee.
He said the governor was not supposed to meddle with such funds especially as he claimed that about N1 billion has been spent on the purchase of what he described as proactive procurement of Covid19 preventive equipment.
The statement held that “the Peoples Democratic Party in this excruciating times, enjoins citizens to be law abiding, observe enumerated protocols and hygiene regime to prevent the contamination of the contagious disease and above all continue to assist the elderly, the needy and the vulnerable in the much cherished communitarian proclivity of Ndi Igbo.
“The party has carefully and dutifully studied and evaluated the actions and activities of Anambra State Government and came to the inescapable and inexorable conclusion that they do not conduce to the demands of responsiveness, responsibility and accountability in all aspects and ramifications.
“From the maiden to the last State Broadcast, the State Government has unmistakably manifested a farrago of falsities that warranted The International Society For Civil Liberties And Rule of Law to sublimely admonish that ‘it is left for the Government of Anambra State to speak credibly and factually on what it has actually done with respect to the Coronavirus prevention and its management including who has benefited and in what manner medically, materially or cash wise’
“The Party expresses genuine reservations against the inauguration of the ‘Anambra State Covid Account’ to be administered by H E Willie Obiano as chairman. Contrary to the disguised official imprimatur that it was aimed at ensuring ‘absolute transparency and accountability’ this mechanism is in effect the very hallmark of corruption, arbitrariness and disregard for due process.
“This is a radical departure from what obtains at both the Federal level and the constituent States and in direct conflict with fiscal regulations.
“Governance is rooted in espousal of public confidence and for accountability. The State Governor must not meddle with such funds. This stance of the Party is reinforced by the nebulous claim by the State Government to have spent N1bn in ‘proactive procurement of Covid 19 prevention equipment’.
“The Peoples Democratic Party recalls that the State Government claimed to have provided three million facemasks for residents in 181 communities and promised to engage tailors profiled by Igwes and Presidents-General on modalities to be announced subsequently to produce more. Laudable and beneficial this might seem, it characteristically ended up as a publicity stunt, an innate trade mark of the State Government.
“The Party views as worrisome, irresponsible and inarticulate the palliative package and stimulus for the enforced Covid-19 socio economic challenges. The Anambra palliative/stimulus regimen has not only demonstrably betrayed the ruse in the much vaunted investment in agriculture by Anambra State Govt but also portrayed mediocrity in the management of the affairs of the State.
“In the Governor’s State broadcast of 18th April 2020, the Governor characteristically referred to short term plan of acquiring 3000 hectares of arable land, seven tractors, empowering women and youths with cages for poultry, subsidising rates for agriculture imputs and extending the provision of rice palliatives to 400 youths per local government.
“It is unthinkable that a State Government is contemplating acquisition of farmland and tractors for Covid-19 short term plan. Then what have the Ministries of Agriculture, Budget and Economic Planning and ASBAA been doing all the while.”
The statement further alleged that all the actions taken so far were without reference to Anambra State Budgets and the need for articulated amendments in accordance with global best practices.
It noted that “the Anambra State Government shall do well to immediately revisit the humongous security votes and drastically reduce the cost of governance in view of the prevailing economic realities enforced by Covid-19 pandemic and religiously channel same into productive immediate, short and medium term schemes. There is no greater threat to security than the current pandemic.
“In the fight against Covid-19, the sanctity of the lives of Anambra residents shall not be flimsily compromised. Amidst proven brutality, unfortunate and avoidable killing of a citizen, the Anambra State Govt nonchalantly announced ‘the Govt of Anambra State will foot the medical bills of the injured as well as underwrite the burial costs of the deceased’. This is crass arrogance, irresponsibility and debasement of humanity reflective of the notorious saga of ‘kill onye anambra and pay N500,000 damages’ enunciated by Governor Willie Obiano.
“The State Governor did not deem it fit to question or order a probe/inquiry into the dastard incident but only recently directed the law enforcement agencies to ‘vigorously’ enforce government’s reactive measures against COVID-19. The Party empathises with Ndi Anambra and hereby call on all concerned to respect the people’s rights and dignities in the enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.
“As we all look forward to the likelihood of another 14 days lockdown, it should be clear to the Anambra State Government, that in the absence of a concrete palliative provision for the citizenry, any death resulting from starvation will be on their heads.”