I watched with utter disbelief a twist of the statement issued this evening by Kwara State Government to the effect that N1.5bn has so far been spent on the COVID-19 pandemic between April 1 and June 29. Some reckless, incompetent and hack writers, including the characters behind Fresh Insight and Informant247, went to town with a headline that the government has spent N17.5m daily in the fight against the pandemic.
When compared to any state in the country today, the Kwara State government comes around as one of the most financially conservative and yet one of the best four in terms of COVID-19 management and preparedness.
This deliberately inciting twist of the government’s laudable step to announce how much it has spent is becoming a pattern for these yellow journalists who have no credible record of being professionals. Kwarans of good conscience have asked how these incompetent hands arrived at their N17.5m daily spending and they are yet to respond. One wonders how these mischievous outlets compressed to daily spending, for instance, the payment of hazard allowance to health workers, which is the highest in Nigeria after Lagos, or the first production of alcohol-based sanitisers worth N32m — not to talk of the purchase of military grade ambulances, ventilators, and other high-end medical equipment that were ordered at different times. Considering its huge expenses on palliatives and the fact that its preparation for the novel virus was from ground zero, how is Kwara spending N1.5bn in three months outrageous compared to some states that have posted between N2.8bn and something even higher within the same period? Are we for real?
Like every decent government, the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq welcomes citizen engagement, free speech, and would be as prudent as practicable, but it will resist with every lawful instrument within its reach any attempt by those who have chosen to bellyache over the non-satisfaction of the gluttonous requests of their paymasters to unjustly blackmail or incite the citizenry against it.
This reckless headline that the government spent N17m per day — without any breakdown or explanation to substantiate such — reinforces the need for the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other regulatory bodies to vet those who want to be called journalists. Journalism, as we know it, is not the same as barefaced blackmail and irresponsible innuendoes which have become the habit of these biased persons.
It is my hope that all Kwarans of decent moral standing will rein in these quacks, as their activities are capable of destabilizing the peace of this state.
Special Assistant, New Media to the Kwara State Governor.