The Benue State Government, on Tuesday, disclosed that it took delivery of three truckloads of 1,800 bags of rice from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affair for distribution in the state as COVID-19 palliatives but discover that the rice had expired.
Chairman of the State COVID-19 Action Committee and Deputy Governor of the state Mr Benson Abounu made the disclosure 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 stated that the state government had earlier sent each truck of 600 bags of rice to Otukpo, Gboko and Katsina/Ala LGAs for distribution in the three senatorial zones but suspended the exercise when it discovered it was 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 adding that the state government also approved N100,000 for each of the council chairmen to move the items to their respective councils.
Dr. Shior explained that those taking refuge in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps across the state who fall under the poorest of the poor would also benefit from the palliatives.
On the expired rice, the Executive Secretary said the government would make arrangement to have it returned to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Abuja.