The Lagos State Government says it will soon commence the second round of its Phase One food stimulus intervention to the aged and vulnerable people in the state.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, made the asertion on Tuesday while reviewing the activities of the committee on the COVID-19 Emergency Food Response.
Lawal said there was the need to commence the second round of distribution following the conclusion of the first round of the Phase One of the Emergency Food Response packages in 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (CDAs) of the state.
He said that over 100,000 households benefitted in the first round of the distribution.
The commissioner explained that the targeted audience to be reached during the next round would be people living with disabilities and the elderly who had earlier received SMS from the Lagos State Resident Registration Agency (LASRRA).
He also said that the vulnerable people within certain catchment communities and in the informal sector would also be included in the second round of food distribution.
Lawal explained that the state government had restrategised on its method of the distribution in order to reach the targeted people and yield the needed result.
He also said the change in strategy was necessitated by the lessons learnt during the first round of distribution as many jobs were created directly and indirectly in the process of distributing the stimulus packages.
He noted that 100 trucks were utilised and many youths and women were engaged in the areas of packaging and loading during the distribution.
According to the commissioner, the stimulus package is not for everybody within the community rather for the aged, the indigent and the most vulnerable in the society.
“What the government has done is to provide a palliative for the most vulnerable households.
“It is just a relief and not a substitute for loss of income.
“The government is not punishing people by asking them to stay at home but staying at home is a necessity. It is in our long-term interest to be able to live and keep hope alive.
“The whole world is on lockdown. While our government will not claim absolute perfection in the distribution of the palliatives, we are still able to reach a large number of the targeted group.
“We are therefore, improving on our strategy,” Lawal said.
The commissioner disclosed that civil society organisations, volunteer group and personalities, artists, and NGOs would be involved during the next phase of the exercise with a view to providing their competence and expertise towards improving the intervention.
“The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Neighbourhood Safety Corps will be effectively deployed.
“The Nigeria Police have already assured the state government of their support particularly for the security of people that would be involved in the distribution network during the next phase.
“It is important to note that Coronavirus came as a shock to everyone; it is unprecedented and no government has a budget for the huge expenses that came with the pandemic, which includes this palliatives project.
“The expenses on this project are extra-budgetary.
“We understand that the government cannot make these food packs available to all residents of the state, which is why we decided that the initiative is for the aged, less privileged, people living with disabilities, vulnerable and daily income earners who would not be able to feed without their jobs,” he said.
Lawal appealed to members of the public to remain calm and allow the new strategies and measures put in place to work, adding that everything would be done to deliver the packages to the categories of households concerned.
He commended all the private organisations and NGOs that have contributed to support the initiative. The state government had on March 27, 2020 unveiled a stimulus package targeted at the aged, the indigent and the most vulnerable in the society, using the 4,000 registered in the CDAs, NGOs and Religious bodies in each locality of distribution.
The stimulus, which comes in food packs, was distributed to the targeted people in all the LGAs in order to cushion the effects of the stay-at-home directive by state government due to the lockdown directive of the Federal Government.
The directive was to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state and other parts of the country.