On Sunday, the National Emergency Management Agency announced that it had begun preparations for transferring 180 trucks of rice to various states, as suggested by the National Economic Council.
As part of measures to ease the pain of subsidy reduction, the Federal Government announced a N5 billion palliative for each state of the federation and 180 trucks of rice on Thursday.
The policy of subsidy removal, which resulted in dramatic and multiple rises in petrol pump prices, has driven up the prices of products and services, forcing millions of Nigerians into poverty and exacerbating the country’s socioeconomic predicament.
However, in announcing the release of the palliative at the end of the 135th National Economic Council meeting in Abuja presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima, Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, revealed that the N5 billion was to enable state governments to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers to cushion the effect of food shortages across the country.
He noted that, due to the urgency of addressing the requirement to reduce the country’s increasing food prices, the Federal Government has previously given five trucks of rice to each state of the federation.
“What I’m saying is that the directive was given on Thursday and arrangements are being made appropriately to carry out the directive.
“And you know these arrangements would also mean that NEMA will be communicated formally. But for us in NEMA we are prepared to carry out the directive. That’s what I mean.”
Manzo explained that the council had given NEMA the responsibility to move the commodities, adding that the agency would also distribute relief items to some states.
He said, “What was said after the National Economic Council is that NEMA is going to move the items to the states, and NEMA is also expected to distribute relief materials to communities in the states bordering Nigeria and Niger Republic.
“The Kogi State governor even made a statement that NEMA would need to be empowered for the management of flood. So those were the outcomes of the National Economic Council meeting, which was held on Thursday.
“But you must also know that in every meeting, minutes are prepared and directives are communicated. So that is the stage that we are right now.”
Recall the NEC had on Thursday outlined how the rice would be shared and other modalities associated with the programme.
“NEC met today and expressed serious concerns as regards increasing cost of food items, and increasing cost of transportation amongst others as a result of subsidy removal. In order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, the federal government released five trucks of rice to each state last week.
“Furthermore, in order to cushion the effect of food shortages across the country, the Federal Government has approved the sum of N5bn to be given to each state for the procurement of 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers.
“This funding has to be shared with a formula as follows: 52 percent of this money is given to states as grants, while 48 percent of the N5bn is to be paid back on an installment basis within a period of 20 months to the CBN by the states and the local government areas in Nigeria,” Shettima had stated.