Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State Governor yesterday insisted that the Federal Government, through the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), supplied weevil-infested rice that is unfit for human consumption to Oyo and Ekiti states in a bid to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on Nigerians.
Makinde said he made a telephone call to the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to find out if the state also had similar problem with the rice supplied by the Federal Government, and, according to him, Fayemi’s answer was in the affirmative.
He made the disclosure during a telephone interview conducted for him on a live radio programme, ‘COVID-19 Situation Room’ of the Fresh FM, Ibadan, during which the governor spoke for almost one hour to the people of the state.
The Federal Government had last week through the NCS supplied 1,800 bags of rice each to Oyo and Ekiti states and others, though the Oyo/Osun Command of NCS had, in a swift response, said the rice supplied to Oyo State was in good condition before the 1,800 bags were moved out of the warehouse of NCS, asking the government to investigate its officials that were responsible for the movement of the rice to the government warehouse.
But Makinde, said his administration would distribute palliatives to 120,000 households across all the local governments in the state, comprising 90,000 identified poorest of the poor households and 30,000 identified vulnerable households, this week without locking down the state.
He stated that his government planned to “include the bags of rice, which were received from the Federal Government through the Nigeria Customs Service, as part of the palliatives to be distributed.
“Of course, we checked everything we received before distribution. An examination of the rice showed that it was infested with weevils, and unfit for human consumption. It was only logical that we report this to the people of Oyo State.
“In fact, when we made the discovery, I called the governor of Ekiti State, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, as to find out if the same problem exists in his own state, or whether it was limited to our state. And he confirmed to me that they have the same problem with the rice that they received; even, reading the newspapers this morning, I saw that the Ondo State Government also admitted they have similar problem, and they will be returning theirs also.
“Since we are not distributing the rice, we have to return it to them. I won’t spend Oyo State money to get rid of rice seized by Customs. They should find the means to destroy it by themselves.”