COVID-19: Wike earmarks N2bn for food palliative for Rivers people

• says state would no longer allow expatriates flights into state

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has stated that the state government has earmarked N2 billion from its 2020 contingency funds to purchase of foodstuffs for distribution to Rivers people as palliatives against hardship being posed by COVID-19.

While addressing the press on Monday at the government house, Port Harcourt, on the state’s efforts at fighting COVID-19, said the state would no longer allow expatriates flights into state.

He disclosed that the only index case reported for Rivers so far could be discharged by the weekend.

The governor who had earlier in the day inaugurated a 24-man Committee for Distribution of Food Palliatives would Tuesday inaugurate a parallel 33 man committee headed by the Secretary to the state government, Tammy Danagogo, to purchase the target food items, first, from local farmers and fishermen.

He said, “We are going a step further to ensure no one complains of hunger in our state during this trying period.

Government has set aside N2 billion to buy off all agricultural produce in the state from farmers and fishermen.

“Our goal is to ensure that no agricultural product like yam, garri, plantain, palm oil and fish leaves our state during this period. While the farmers and fishermen will make their profits, the less privileged will have enough food supply for their families.”

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The governor expressed hope that development would stimulate increase local production of food crops and sea products among local farmers in the state, boosting the local economy in the process.

On why Rivers as an oil and gas hub with the influx of expatriates have recorded only one confirmed COVID-19 case,  he explained, “as a responsive government, we did not wait to record any index case before we set out proactive measures that helped us to contain the virus in our state.

“The diligence exhibited by our health professionals and security agencies have made us record one index case. Our strategies of shutting down markets and our borders have, no doubt, brought hardship to our citizens”

On the air movement of expatriates into Rivers without the state’s knowledge of their COVID-19 status, Wike harped that he would no longer allow it as he continues to blame the federal government on the development.

“I have said it. As a state, we may not have the power to restrain people from flying the airspace, but when you fly in, we won’t allow you to use our roads or enter into our cities. You will remain in your airport.

“As the oil and gas hub in this country, we are inundated with an influx of expatriates coming in and out on a daily basis.

When these people come, they interact with our people and we are not aware of their COVID-19 status. What if one of them is infected and comes in to mix with people here?”

Wike berated Federal Government for its unwillingness to support Rivers to fight COVID-19 in spite of the state being the economic hub of the nation.

“Let me reiterate, yes, the Federal Government is playing politics with this COVID-19. The truth of the matter is, no state is more important than any other state.

He wondered if the Federal Government is waiting for Rivers to record high index case before it would assist the state with funds.


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