The Benue State Government, on Tuesday, alleged that about three truckloads of 1,800 bags of rice which it received from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affair as COVID-19 palliatives were expired.
Mr Benson Abounu,the state Deputy Governor who doubles as Chairman of the State COVID-19 Action Committee and disclosed this while flagging off the distribution of palliatives to the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state at the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA office in Makurdi.
Mr. Abounu said three truck containing 600 bags of rice each , has already been sent to Otukpo, Gboko and Katsina/Ala LGAs for distribution in the three senatorial zones but suspended the exercise upon discovering they were inedible .
“We recently received from Calabar three trucks loaded with 600 bags of rice each, from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs as COVID-19 palliative for distribution to the poorest of the poor in our state only to discover that the rice had expired when we wanted to distribute the stock after paying N600,000 for the delivery.
“We are not going to distribute that to our people because of the health hazard. They are there in Gboko, Katsina-Ala and Gboko so what we are flagging off today are items from the Benue state government to be distributed by the Local Government Council Chairman who will have them distributed to the poorest of the poor by committees in the respective LGAs.
“The state government has provided thousands of cartons and bags of rice, semovita, tomatoes paste and vegetable oil for distribution. It is being handed over to the chairmen who will work with the committees whose members are drawn from the CAN, Jama’atu Nasril Islam, NGOs, DSS, Police, Women Societies and the youths in their respective LGAs for distribution,” Abounu said.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Benue SEMA, Dr Emmanuel Shior said the agency had put measures in place to ensure even distribution of the materials , noting the state government approval of N100,000 for each of the council chairmen to move the items to their respective councils.
Not forgetting those taking refuge in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps across the state who fall under the poorest of the poor, Dr. Shior said they would not be left out of the goodwill.
The Executive Secretary said the government would however make arrangement to have the expired rice returned to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Abuja.