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The novel coronavirus which seems to be unwilling to get eradicated anytime soon in Nigeria and the world over has caused untold setbacks to economic activities across the globe and has, of course, resulted in the deaths of many.
Being badly hit, many states in the country are being tasked to creatively respond to the debilitating impact on their economies, especially considering the dwindling allocation from Abuja. Osun, under the leadership of the finance guru, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, appears to be leading the pack in this regard.
In her bid to stem the ugly tide of the pandemic, the State of Osun decided to get innovative and set up a committee of its notable elites to cater to the needs of her vulnerable citizens.
The tremendous achievements of this team have been a source of joy to the people.
The committee, headed by the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A Adeboye, is made up of eminent Osun sons and daughters of the State. Other members are Asiwaju Tunde Badmus, Chief Adebayo Jimoh, Pastor Matthew Asimolowo, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, General Alani Akinrinade (Rtd), Chief Tunde Ponle, Rt Hon Patricia Etteh, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, Sir Demola Aladekomo, Rt Hon Lasun Yusuff, Dr. Wale Babalakin, and Dr. Segun Aina.
Others are Mallam Yussuf Alli, SAN, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Mr. AbdulKabir Aliyu, Dr. Deji Adeleke, Otunba Iyiola Omisore, and three former governors of the state, Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
The Committee is also supported by a 5-man Interface Committee put up by Governor Oyetola. Led by Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. Charles ‘Diji Akinola, the interface team provides requisite bureaucratic and executive support to eminent person group. Other leading cabinet members such as Prince Abdullahi Binuyo, Deputy Chief of Staff; Professor Olalekan Yinusa, Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget; Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, Commissioner for Finance and Mr. Adeleke Adebayo, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The COVID 19 Food and Relief committee was essentially set up by the Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola to help home-ridden vulnerable citizens get food and other relief packages in these trying times. In its first outing, the committee certainly did not disappoint as it successfully reached over 22,000 households across the State using a bespoke scientific approach that was hitch-free. The exercise was widely commended for its transparency and thoroughness.
Dr. Jimoh, secretary of the committee gave insights into the formidable work being done. According to him, “the output you have seen is the result of planning and painstaking articulation of our goals and objectives. If you look at the members of the committee, they are very experienced people in varying areas such as business, intellectual capabilities, and professions. We are also working with a committee set-up by the government called the Interface Committee. We also looked at what our people would want and who are we targeting.
“We had to look at data and got working with the Interface committee of government, using a social-register that has been attested and proven to be at least reliable, auditable and traceable, for us to identify people who are truly vulnerable and require succour. We also had to find out what the people need through a survey. You know, essentially, we have only been talking about rice, but it will interest you to know that when a subcommittee of our committee headed by Prince Tunde Ponle did a survey, he came out to say the people are expecting garri, Ewa, elubo, noodles, among others. You see, we are professionals that research before we set out to do things so that you give to a person what will satisfy the person and he will say thank you for.
“We then ask ourselves how we would mobilise these things and our committee agreed that everything we need should be sourced from Osun so that we can spend the money that we get within our people. This is so that the resources we get revolve and improves the gross domestic product of the State. All these required planning and articulation. But the good news is, when we started the distribution, it was beyond the expectation of the people and they are very happy for it”.
Jimoh also hinted that so far the Committee raised over N300 million in forms of donations while also still receiving tones of food donations, in addition to crowd-funding platforms through which it rakes in funds from Osun citizens in the diaspora.
“The goodwill of the governor and the State that is making people support us. Besides, we also have lots of companies that are donating tons of food materials. One good thing is that through technology because the world itself is knowledge-driven, we have set up crowd-funding platforms meant for and targeted at every citizen of the State living in Nigerian and even in the diaspora. Through that, people are donating from the diaspora. It is a marathon; we will continue to spend as long as we get money”.
The Osun Food and Relief committee also strives to foster compliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols among Osun residents to deter from activities that will make the pandemic more pronounced in the State and as such flatten the curve.
Commendably, the COVID-19 is already working in partnership with the state-owned university, Osun State University, to establish a world-class molecular laboratory to diagnose COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. This, as we also learned, is in addition to a herbal medical research center that is in the pipeline to support the globalization of indigenous drugs.