Speculations are rife that the Oyo State Government might return the 1,800 bags of rice donated to it by the Federal Government as COVID-19 palliative on the grounds that the rice had been infested with weevils.
The state government took delivery of the three trailer loads of rice through the Nigeria Customs Service on Monday.
The Executive Assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, explained that the 1,800 bags of rice from the Federal Government had spoilt.
Akande said, “We received these items from the Federal Government via the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and we brought them to the warehouse. It was in the process of further inspection that we discovered that the rice had been infested with weevils.
“On that basis, we formed a committee to re-inspect it so we can be sure of what we have received.
“We don’t want to create another problem while providing solution to another one. We have inspected it; we have done random selection and we have seen that similar things apply across the board.
“We have agreed to return them to the source but if there are good ones with good quality that could be sent to us as replacement, we will be glad to receive them.”
Akande promised that the situation would not in any way delay the planned distribution of palliatives by the state government.
He added, “We all know that a good number of food items have been received by the Food Security Committee of the Task Force and they would be distributed in the next couple of days. We have in place a robust system for distribution and that we have finalised on it.”
Meanwhile, the Oyo and Osun Commands of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday flayed the State for rejecting the palliative.
The Oyo State Government had on Friday claimed the 1,800 bags of rice donated as palliative through the Oyo and Osun Commands was not fit for human consumption.
The Assistant Superintendent of Customs 1, and the Command Public Relations Officer, Mr. Abdullah Lagos in Ibadan that 6,000 bags of rice were given to Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo States.
He noted that it was only Oyo State that claimed the 1,800 bags of rice released to them were infected and not good for consumption.
Lagos explained that the claim by the Oyo state government was not fair but suspicious.
According to him; “Representatives of Oyo, Ekiti and Osun States excluding that of Ondo were on ground together with representatives of Humanitarian Affairs to inspect the rice in our warehouse twice on Monday.
“Oyo state came to evacuate their rice on Tuesday and everybody was there, if the rice was not good as they claimed, all of us should be able to see it right there.
“In the process of evacuating, some fell down and tore and no weevil or any other insect came out of it.
“Oyo state even selected the rice they wanted themselves. Of all the states that collected the rice only Oyo state is saying all the 1,800 bags of rice given to them are infected.
“The rice we gave out are not infected and are fit for human consumption and we cannot give out infected rice,” Lagos said.
He maintained that the Command would not receive any bad rice from anybody that wanted to return it because it could not join the bad rice with the good ones in their warehouse.
Meanwhile, Oyo APC spokesman, Mr. Abdulazeez Olatunde also berated the Oyo State Government of playing politics with the rice donation.
“It’s very thoughtful of the federal government to have given the rice palliative to four states of Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states, the same day”.
“To God be the glory, none of the other three states that collected the rice consignment the same day had made similar complaints. This is another point to buttress our observation of unnecessary politicking of COVID-19 pandemic by the Oyo state government.
“Also, because the idea of total lockdown came from APC, Oyo state, the government chose an ineffective curfew of 7pm to 6am, which has been criticised by all reasonable stakeholders in Oyo state which Nigeria Medical Association, Oyo state chapter chairman publicly knocked on a popular radio station.”
He used the opportunity to advise the government of Oyo State to distribute the relief materials to the vulnerable in the state, fumigate all public places, instead of playing politics with the health of the citizenry in the State.
Editing by ‘Biodun Soyele
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