Like a whirlwind, the looting of warehouses used as stores for the COVID-19 palliative passed from one state to another.
The looting came in the immediate aftermath of the #ENDSARS protests when warehouses were invaded by angry youth who went into a frenzy of anger in many states when they discovered that some of the state governments failed to distribute the palliative intended to cushion the harsh economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several houses were also looted by irritated youths who felt they could help themselves where the government did not show transparency in the management and disbursement of the palliative.
Interestingly, as the storm ravaged parts of the country, and in particular the states bordering Benue state, the atmosphere in Benue was one of apprehension, as many thought, like other neighboring states, government warehouses under direct care. by Dr. Emmanuel Shior- The State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, was still replete with palliatives from CACOVID, a private sector initiative to extend needed support to the poorest of the poor in society.
Some antagonists of the Ortom administration had thought that violent protests and looting would spread to Benue.
They were all wrong, as Benue was one of the first states to guarantee the palliative distribution long before the #ENDSARS protests broke out.
Furthermore, prior to the outbreak of the looting wave in parts of the country, Governor Samuel Ortom had received a standing ovation at a presidential stakeholder meeting hosted in Makurdi by the Minister of Special Duties / Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume for discuss the #ENDSARS protest over the way they handled the protest in the state.
Speaker after speaker at the event, including Wantaregh Paul Unongo, Senator Barnabas Gemade, representatives of youth and civil society organizations, the presidents of the Congress of All Progressives, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, clergy, Women’s groups and traditional rulers praised Ortom for proactively handling the protests in Benue that helped prevent any form of crisis, looting and loss of life.
In the heat of the protests, the governor, addressing the young people protesting in Makurdi, won their hearts when he showed solidarity with their cause and accepted that the country’s leaders had failed them.
The Governor, in a thought-provoking speech, calmed the tense nerves of the thousands of young people protesting
He said: “I have always supported what you are doing today and I want to assure you that by the grace of God, from all of us in this country there must be a change in what we are doing.
“We, as leaders, have truly failed the people of this country and we must come up with better ways to correct the anomaly. These protests in Benue and Nigeria provide us with the opportunity to change things and ensure that we have a better future for our children.
“In truth, Nigeria needs restructuring because we may not survive where we are going. The insecurity is too much, the economic difficulties are too many, everything is backwards and, of course, we must change things. I am with you and I support you, ”he said.
Before that, the state government had formed a committee made up of people from CSOs, the Police, DSS, religious leaders, local governments, unions, Community Leaders, the CACOVID Monitoring and Evaluation Team, SEMA and others who directly supervised the distribution of the palliative to the 23 AGL of the state
The LGA presidents on the Ortom board established similar committees in their respective councils to manage the distribution of palliative in their various communities.
The distribution was discontinued in Makurdi on August 6, 2020 and was directly supervised by the CACOVID monitoring team and the media. Said the deputy governor of the state of Benue and president of the COVID-19 committee, Benson Abounu who spoke on the occasion “a summary of the articles received and distributed to the 23 areas of the local government includes, Rice 4,929 bags (10kg), Noddles 96,279 cartons , Pasta 49,029 cartons, Semo (5 kg) 49,029 bags, Sugar (5 kg) 49,029 bags and Salt 49,029 bags ”.
The articles were sent to the 23 LGAs and organizations that should benefit from the intervention.
On September 10, 2020, the last batch of the palliative consisting of 1,200 cartoon noddles, 400 bags of rice, and hundreds of bags of semovita was shipped to the IDP camp across the state.
That distribution was directly monitored by SEMA Executive Secretary Shior and the media to ensure transparency.
Shior, who explained that the distribution was the last batch of what was donated to the state by CACOVID, said that apart from the intervention, the state government had previously sent its own palliative to internally displaced persons.
He said that “we are taking the palliative to eight official camps to more than 500,000 internally displaced people and today we are emptying the warehouses in the presence of all in accordance with the central value of this administration which is honesty, transparency, probity and responsibility” .
He noted that upon receiving the palliative, Governor Ortom pressured interested agencies, including the CACOVID team, to go to Benue and ensure that the items were distributed.
“As if Governor Ortom saw what was coming, he lobbied everyone to distribute the items to people who urgently needed intervention. So we wasted no time for the CACOVID team to come to supervise the distribution, which was done in a transparent way, ”he said.
This apparently explains why the SEMA Executive Secretary wasted no time opening the doors of all government warehouses to the public and journalists to make sure there was nothing left in them when some misinformed people tried to trick some gullible young people into to believe that the palliative was still in progress. left in warehouses.