Umahi and the politics of Palliatives

All things being equal, Ebonyi State residents will, today, start receiving palliatives to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, courtesy of the federal government and the Engr. David Umahi-led state government. However, the intrigues overshadowing the long overdue palliatives is a matter of concern to residents and political watchers. PAUL OKAH reports.

At long last, the long awaited palliatives from the Ebonyi State government have surreptitiously descended from Mountains Kilimanjaro and Everest to land with volcanic eruptions at no other place, but at the feet of many Ebonyi residents, whether at home or abroad.

“Egu nworu olile enya egbugu madu” is a saying by Ehugbo/ Afikpo people, roughly translated to mean that food expectancy does not kill a famished fellow. (Be that as it may, many Ebonyians have since lost confidence in the now-to-become-reality palliatives, thanks to the politics that precipitated them.)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic berthed in Nigeria and federal and state governments started taking measures to contain its spread, hunger has been the common anthem of many Nigerians, with Ebonyians not left out, especially with the restriction of movement, ban on Okada (which has since been lifted), skyrocketing prices of consumables (in the midst of poverty), among others.

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Even the news of the distribution of palliatives to the state government by the federal government was welcomed at a time, but the news only served to whet the appetite of expectant Ebonyians, who understandably grew restless and became disgruntled after reading or hearing so much about the palliatives, but without seeing any with passing days.

In fact, to add salt to injury, many Ebonyians were forced to write names and register for the “heard-but-not-seen” palliatives at different times, with political office holders already cashing into the situation by charging money to record the “longitude and latitude” of would be beneficiaries.

However, all that may now be a tale in the past and Umahi can be forgiven to “go and sin no more” as residents are presently heaving a sigh of relief following announcement by the state government that the palliatives (donations from both the federal and state governments, individuals and organisations), would be distributed to all residents across the 1,785 polling units in the state, “irrespective of social and economic backgrounds”.

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This is as the Ebonyi State government recently inaugurated COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Joint Committee, comprising members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC), existing political parties and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to oversee the distribution of the relief materials released by the federal and state governments; to ease the hardship occasioned by the lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, in a statewide broadcast at the new Government House, Abakaliki, on the efforts of government to provide palliatives for indigenes of the state, Umahi noted that he was not ignorant of the hunger and hardship faced by people across the country, stating that the state was willing to do more as its economy improves.

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Umahi explained that the state would start immediately to distribute all palliatives accruing to it from the Federal Government, private donors as well as those sourced by the state government fairly to all, irrespective of party or other inclinations.

According to the governor, churches and religious leaders, as well as leaders of the state, would also be accommodated, while widows and other vulnerable groups were to be given special attention under the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious and Welfare Matters.

He said: “Our palliatives to many sectors of the society will start today. I know there is hunger in the state and this is my number one priority: to fight hunger and poverty, and we are doing that. So, in this coming week, we will be sending palliatives to

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