Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Monday, said prominent politicians and influential personalities benefit from the Ramadan and Christmas welfare packages rather than the poor.
Mr. El-Rufai was explaining the reason he scrapped the welfare package – distributing food items and gifts during Ramadan.
While hosting religious leaders last week, the governor said Kaduna State was broke and needed to tighten its finances to serve the people better.
He said the state government will no longer tolerate the siphoning of government resources in the guise of gifts to prominent politicians, public servants and famous figures, or the feeding of indigent persons during religious occasions; neither will it be involved in sponsoring people to religious events.
In a statement Tuesday, the governor said his administration stopped issuing contracts to so-called “super” politicians to supply foods, beverages and other essentials as Ramadan gifts across the state because the process, in the past, was fraudulent with nothing tangible to show for it, except playing to the gallery to score cheap political goals and fraudulently enrich a few individuals.
“It is a known fact that the so-called feeding of the poor during Ramadan is a window created to loot the public treasury with impunity using religion as a cover,” the statement read.
He said food stuffs, bought with public resources, are distributed to prominent government officials and other personalities, while the poor in whose name those foods are procured queue in droves for crumbs and are constantly subjected to several forms of hardships and degrading circumstances.
“The Governor is committed to always helping the needy in a transparent and sustainable manner. He is focused on providing sincere leadership, and that includes taking steps against the looting of the public treasury in the guise of feeding ordinary citizens who are deprived of social justice and basic amenities,” the statement said.
“The Governor’s position is simple. He will not dip his hands into the public treasury or aid the swindling of public funds using religion as a cover. Instead his generosity to the poor will continue in his private status as a Muslim. His commitment to Zakat is constant and has been done for decades without any form of publicity.
“The Governor encourages people of means to do the same in their private capacities, and not abdicate their religious duty to care for the less well-off to the government.
“This year, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and his friends are pooling resources to provide Ramadan feeding as private individuals to the vulnerable in our society.
“This is a healthy way of building a caring society, and if more widely adopted by people of means, will certainly provide for more persons than a fraudulent system of government provision that at best reaches only a few,” the statement concluded.