Coronavirus diary – Part 24

This instalment deals with corruption, a pandemic within a pandemic. This is a systemic pathology that has rendered many societies impoverished because of a thieving elite profiting from the misfortune of their societies. With COVID-19 taking its toll on humans world-wide, those enamoured of profit but less for the larger humanity are plundering what is meant to be succour for the endangered human species a la COVID-19. As the Kenyan anti-corruption activist Wanjeri Nderu, puts it, “Theft doesn’t even stop during a pandemic.” We view corruption here in the context of the fight against COVID-19 as any practice, on the part of individuals, public officials, and corporate organisations that deviates and undermines the effort to curb and defeat COVID-19.

There are many practices or wrongdoings relating to the fight against COVID-19. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe exemplify the plague of corruption in Africa. For Latin America, Financial Times says it all, “Coronavirus corruption cases spread across Latin America” and Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico are among some of the Latin American countries in the loop. In Europe, Estonia, Italy, Romania, and Slovenia are among some of the countries tainted by the COVID-19 related corruption.

Let’s turn the searchlight on Africa. In Kenya, there were allegations of impropriety over the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by healthcare workers at the state-run Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), prompting a probe by the country’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. As a result, Jonah Manjari, the head of KEMSA, and other officials were suspended.

In Nigeria, that country described by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron as fantastically corrupt, it is a different kettle of fish. The NDDC claimed it spent N1.32 billion about 200 million dollars as COVID-19 relief. This was confirmed by the Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, Kemebradikumo Pondei in a probe of the commission’s activities by the National Assembly. But Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC who petitioned the committees on privilege and ethics of both chambers of the National Assembly, alleged the misappropriation of N6.2 billion approved by President Buhari as palliatives for the region.

Read the full article in Guardian

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