By Emeke Alexander

A socio-political group christened, Urhobo Political Movement UPM, has berated the federal government of Nigeria for excluding Delta State from its conditional cash transfer programme to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a communiqué signed by the National Chairman, Chief Obiuwevbi Ominimini and National Secretary, Mr.David Ekuetafia, the group insisted that there was no justification whatsoever for the exclusion of the state saying even the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, has not been able to justify the “vexatious exclusion”.

The UPM noted that, “At the twilight of the announcement of the programme, the leaders of the group alongside other community leaders swung into action, compiling names of vulnerable and poorest of the poor Deltans believing that it was the birth of a new Era. The group noted that as at today, it is still trying to appease the anger of Deltans who strongly feel they have been used to score a cheap political point!

“It is known as a household-uplifting program because it is targeted at the poorest homes; it is actually targeted at the bottom of the poor. When we talk of poverty, we have different categories, referring to those that cannot tackle malnutrition in their homes. Government looked at this and decided to come with a program that would help this set of people to start doing things for themselves.

“The community identifies the poorest of the poor and they are being supported with N5, 000.00 monthly to enhance their living standards. So, these are the issues that have to be addressed and the government is not stopping at the N5, 000, rather, the government has gone ahead to build their capacity so that after meeting their daily feeding requirements, they will be able to do something valuable for themselves and even contributing to national development. These are the key components of the social investment program of the present administration.”

The group expressed regret that the laudable programme has become a mirage to Deltans despite Delta State huge contribution to the national coffer, describing as worrisome the announcement of the federal government on April 16, 2020, wherein it excluded Lagos, Delta, Borno, Ogun, and Ebonyi from the N20,000 Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme.

The UPM therefore called on the federal government to correct the anomaly or omission in other to give the poorest of the poor and the vulnerable in Delta State the right to moderate living and sustenance.

Delta State the group noted is one of the states hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which necessitated the lockdown of the state for four weeks adding that there is no better time to extend the programme to Deltans than now, so as to avoid more ‘Hunger virus’ victims than ‘COVID-19 victims’.