Story log: COVID-19: Wike approves N2bn agric palliative for Rivers
… Insists FG playing politics with virus
From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has announced the release of N2 billion to buy off agricultural products to cushion the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
Governor Wike has maintained his position that Federal Government was playing politics with issues bordering on COVID-19, stressing that no state is more important that the other.
The governor declared this yesterday, when he briefed journalists in Port Harcourt, on the steps taken by the state government to ameliorate the sufferings occasioned by border and market closure in Rivers.
He informed that the state government has set up a 33-man committee, to be headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Tammy Danagogo, to work out modalities for effective implementation for the policy.
Speaking further, the state governor explained that the agricultural products would be bought of from farmers and fishermen to ensure that the goods were not sold out to other states.
“As a responsible government, we will not wait to record any index case before setting out proactive measures that helped to contain the virus in our state.
He said: “Earlier today, we set up a 24-man committee headed by Ambassador Desmond Akawor, to work out the implementation of palliatives to cushion the hardship being experienced by our people.
“We are going a step further to ensure that no one complains of hunger in our state during this trial period.
“The state government has, therefore, set aside the sum of N2 billion to buy off all agricultural products in the state from farmers and fishermen.
“Our goal is to ensure that no agricultural products like yam, garri, plantain, palm oil and fish leave our state during this period.
“While the farmers and fishermen will make their profits, the less-privileged will have enough food supply for their families. This is, in deed, an opportunity for farmers and fishermen to go back to their locations.
“To ensure that appropriate logistics for effective implementation of this policy is carried out to the letter, government has set up a 33-man committee to make sure that implementation carried.
“The present situation we found ourselves demands utmost sacrifice and understanding. It is time for all hands to be on deck to ensure we contain this virus”, Wike urged.
Among the 33-man committee were: Commissioner for Agriculture, Fred Kpakol (Secretary),Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, the 23 local government council chairmen.
He, however, disclosed that the money for the palliative was gotten from contingency fund already approved by the State Government.
Governor Wike berated Federal Government for not its unwillingness to support Rivers to fight COVID-19 inspite of the state being economic hub of the nation.
“Let me reiterate, yes, Federal Government is playing politics with this COVID-19. The truth of the matter is, no one state is important than any other state.
He wondered if Federal Government is waiting for Rivers to record high index case before it would assist the state with fund.