A human rights group has carpeted Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano over his claims that N1, 000,000,000 has been spent to procure Coronavirus protective equipment in the state.
In a release the group the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety said ‘It is categorically clear that the N1b claimed by the Obiano led Government of Anambra State to have been spent on ‘proactive’ procurement of Coronavirus prevention equipment was only spent in the moon.
“Recall that our organization, The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law had two days ago on 31st March 2020 issued a detailed statement warning that Coronavirus eruption in Nigeria or any part thereof is likely to have become another opportunity for official criminal enrichment and state sadism in the country.
“Twenty-four hours after, being yesterday, 1st April 2020, the Punch Newspaper published a news report emanating from the Secretary to the Government of Anambra State, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, claiming that “about N1b ($300m) has been spent by the State Government in procuring personal protective equipment against Coronavirus”. The State Government statement listed the “N1b procured items” as: “protective clothing (over-all safety clothes), helmets, goggles, facemasks, hand-gloves and other garments/equipment designed to protect against Coronavirus”. The SSG also said that ‘out of the State’s estimated population of seven million citizens, the Government has procured the equipment for 3m of them’.
Emeka Umeagbalasi Speaks: “This is total vindication of us at Intersociety barely two days after our advocacy warning; and more so when is the country led by ‘conflict and disaster profiteers’ or those smiling to the bank at human miseries. Personally, I can categorically and expertly tell you that the N1b was spent in the moon and not on Coronavirus protective equipment.
First of all, those items mentioned are sold at the Tools & Allied Market and their remainder at its neighboring Surgical Market, all located at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead Central Market. I was brought to that Tools & Allied Market in late 1983 for apprenticeship as a teen and have remained there from the year of my settlement in 1993 till date; spanning for over 35 years and I can tell you that no other market sells those equipment in industrial quantity and cheaper anywhere in Anambra or beyond than the Tools & Allied Market. A supply of those items worth N300m will dry all the items in the Market, not to talk of purchasing same with N1b.
Nose or facemasks (use-and-throw away type), for instance, were so scarce in the Market and similar markets in Lagos that it is very difficult to purchase 100 cartons of same today. Packed 2000 pieces in a carton, it now goes for N92, 000 per carton, from N10, 000 to N14, 000 it used to be sold per carton way back in January 2020; all owing to acute scarcity of same since then. It is therefore all lies; maybe those items purchased at N1b by the Government of Anambra State were procured from the firmament or moon!
Talking about ‘purchasing each set of the items for 3m citizens in the State’, valued at about N1b, this is another barefaced lie. For instance, by present market value, a maximum sum of N15, 000 is required to kit each of the 3m citizens, involving: a set of protective cloth or ‘over-all safety cloth’ at maximum of N2, 500, a pair of safety boot at maximum of N5,000, a helmet at N1,500, a pair of goggle or safety eyeglass at N500, a pair of hand-glove at N500 and 20 pieces of nose-mask at N5000 (N250 each) or a piece of clinic or ‘wash-and-wear’ facemask sold at maximum of N3,000.
That is to say that contrary to claims by the Government of Anambra State, it will cost a total of N45b to kit 3m citizens in the State with safety kits, from hair to toe and not ‘N1b’. Further breakdown shows that with N15, 000 for each citizen multiply by 100,000 citizens, N1.5b will be spent and for the said 3m citizens, a total of N45b will be spent at N15, 000 per citizen. With these said, it is obvious that the Government of Anambra State has fed the State citizens with lies of unpardonable proportion.
Also, contrary to claims by the Government of Anambra State, nowhere, not even in the warehouse(s) of the State Emergency Management Agency-SEMA, through media enquiries, was found a carton of the said procured items, not to talk of trailer-loads of same that would have equalled the said “N1b’ purchases. A 40-feet container or a trailer-load worth of the listed items is valued at N20m and N1b, if it is 50 trailers of the 40-feet containers.
Our checks as to whether “the procured items have been shared to the 3m State citizens” also proved abortive as no traces were recorded concerning same. ‘The State Government procured safety items’, if shared, would have arithmetically resulted to “1m citizen-beneficiaries per Senatorial District”, out of the State’s three Senatorial Districts. We hereby challenge the Government of Anambra State to show the public the warehouses where the 50 trailers of 40-feet containers are kept or the 3m citizens that already received them or given a set of the items each.
Generally speaking and in summation, we are not aware of any citizen of the State that has benefited anything either cash or material or medical from the Government of Anambra State as it concerns the Coronavirus incentives or palliatives and their management. It is left for the Government of the State to speak credibly and factually on what it has actually done with respect to Coronavirus prevention and its management including who and who has benefited and in what manner-medically, materially or cash wise”.