Indications show that the Ondo State government will soon commence the distribution of the food items sent to the state by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management as part of measures to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
This was disclosed by the Special Adviser to the state governor on Public and Inter-Governmental Relations, Mrs Olubunmi Ademosu while denying that the rice received by the state was not good for human consumption and billed to be returned.
Ademosu who dismissed the reports in some media during a press conference in Akure, the state capital, described the report as unfounded, embarrassing, shocking and false, saying there was no plan to return the rice and other food items sent to the state.
According to her, the committee has commenced the repackaging of the rice for onward distribution to the vulnerable in the state while the distribution would commence any time from now.
The Special Adviser said the rice had been tested and confirmed to be edible, explaining that the manufactured date, as well as the expiry date, are still within the consumption time frame.
She said “we have no plans to return the rice, and such report never emanated from the state government or any member of the palliative committee.
“The state government had commended the gestures of the Federal government towards cushioning the effect of the lockdown across the country. It behoves on us to appreciate the gestures rather than condemning it.
“The items are in good shape, tested and good for consumption. The expiry date is boldly written on the rice, we cannot distribute what is harmful to our people.
“We don’t want to lose them, irrespective of their political leaning, we will not sacrifice the people we govern by giving them expired or products that are not good for human consumption.
“The onus is on the governor to protect the people of the state, their safety and lives. We have cooked part of the rice to be sure they are edible and good for consumption.
“We must not create another problem while finding a solution to one, we have tested the rice, checked the expiry date and I can confirm to you that the rice is of good quality and good for consumption”
The state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu while receiving the items last week said “We can all see the palliatives items. I have confirmed the receipt of these items to the Minister during our virtual meeting.
“We are grateful to the Federal Government and we look forward to more so that we can keep reaching out to our people.
” It is now over to the chairman of the palliative committee and make sure you distribute to all Local governments, everybody must get”
The state received 1800 bags of rice in three trailers alongside 700 gallons of vegetable oil last week from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management as part of measures to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.
The State Coordinator of YESSO, Mr Bankole Olaoluwa, while delivering the items said each trailer of rice contains 600 50kg bags of polished rice and 700 25 litres of groundnut oil.
According to him, “we have been able to provide the state with the Social Register of poor and vulnerable by capturing over 20,000 heads of households, which would aid the distribution of the palliatives.
However, the members of the Palliative Committee in the state also denied rejecting the palliative materials donated by the Federal government.
In the statement signed by the Secretary of the Palliative Committee, Mr Alex Kalejaye, the committee denied the reports of rejecting the bags of rice supplied to it by the federal government but said a few of the rice appeared unhealthy for consumption.
He, however, denied the report that the state is set to return the whole consignment of rice, saying, the story is untrue and sensational.
The Committee stated that “At no time did the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, instruct that the rice, meant to assist the state to combat food insecurity, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, be rejected and returned to Abuja.
They explained that “On receipt of the items, the Palliative Committee did a random physical inspection on the rice, and discovered that some appear unhealthy for consumption, at least on the face value, while others look good.
“The Committee indeed drew the attention of Mr Governor to this and pleaded for proper guidance.
“While awaiting the thoughts of Mr governor, the Committee members met and decided to carry out a comprehensive inspection, to ascertain how many bags have been affected on account of storage.
“We discovered that less than ten per cent of the lot falls into this category, and subsequently separated the few bags.
“It is therefore very embarrassing that newspapers will say that the state government has rejected the Federal Government’s support.
“The state is rather deeply appreciative of the Federal Government for standing by it in this trying time, and very optimistic that the support will further cushion the effects of hunger on our people.