Some civil society organisations in Nigeria have deployed 1000 volunteers to monitor the distribution of palliative items meant to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown on Nigerians.
Following the outbreak of the virus, government had ordered the distribution of relief materials, but most of the items shared and the mode of distribution applied had been rejected by many Nigerians.
Human and Environmental Development Agenda in collaboration with Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, deployed the monitors last weekend across nine states and the Federal Capital Territory.
In monitoring the palliatives, the groups said they aim to ensure transparency in the process.
In a joint statement signed by HEDA' s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, and his WARD-C counterpart, Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, the volunteers will produce a comprehensive report covering strategic areas using jointly developed questionnaire tools designed to meet global best practices.
The monitors include women, People Living With Disabilities and media practitioners.
The groups noted that women and PWDs are most affected by the lockdown informed by the COVID-19 pandemic and any corruption in the process or failure to provide the expected relief and welfare packages will spell doom for in these categories.
"The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria has informed several political, economic, social and corporate actions including the lockdown of some states and changes in Nigeria's political-economy to reflect new realities.
“This has been followed by funds being disbursed to meet public needs. It is important that Nigerians ensure the funds meet the target audience.
"Citizens have had to resort to rumours, hearsays, fake news and unofficial sources for information on the relief packages and governments' spending. Also, videos confirming reported anomalies in the distribution of relief materials and economic packages are all over the social media,” the groups said.
The groups added that they stepped in to fill the information gap as well as monitor and evaluate loose ends with a view to engaging critical stakeholders on the outcomes.
"Our objective is not all about pointing accusing fingers after the deed had been done, but to assist the people and the government alike in identifying red flags or opportunity for corruption in the process; and in cases where the funds are already diverted or mismanaged by corrupt elements in government, ensure that looted public funds are recovered and perpetrators adequately prosecuted.
"This is why we are not just evaluating the impact, we are equally monitoring implementation through the tools that will be administered by the volunteers,” the groups added.