Infested Covid-19 Rice: SOUTH WEST GOVERNORS UNANIMOUSLY RETURN 10, 800 BAGS OF RICE DONATED BY FG, BACK TO LAGOS, SAYS RICE UNHEALTHY FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION

* Decision Communicated to FG through VP Osibajo

* How APC Governors kept mum, used Makinde to fly Story in the Media

* 85% of Rice sent to Ondo Now Green in Colour

* Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo to Return Own Portions, Lagos Dumps Own inside Lagoon

More facts have emerged on why the Oyo State Government decided to return the 1, 800 bags of rice donated to the state by the federal government to cushion the effect of covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging the World.

The Oyo State Government, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the State Governor on AgricBusiness, Dr. Debo Akande disclosed that the rice have been infected by weevil and other pests making them unhealthy for human consumption.

The statement however generated instant criticisms from some section of the public who alleged that the State Governor, Seyi Makinde, being an opposition PDP member, was senselessly playing politics with the matter without considering the suffering of his people who are currently wallowing in the euphoria of hunger and starvation.

However, The Elite Times can confirm that the decision to reject the rice was taken yesterday during a virtual meeting held by the Nigerian Governors Forum presided over by their Chairman and Governor of Ekiti- State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi with the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osibajo, SAN.

Speaking to The Elite Times on Saturday, a close aide of Akeredolu who preferred anonymity said the Ondo State Government has rejected her own portion of the rice because 85% of it have been infected by pests and now green in colour.

“85% of the Rice has changed to colour green. We dare not share it to animals talk less of human beings, not even prisoners on death roll,” the aide said.

Asked why the state government chose to keep the story secret unlike her Oyo State counterpart, the aide said “we are in APC like Abuja people, we cannot address the public like Makinde who is a PDP Governor.

“The Fact is the governors unanimously pleaded with Makinde to fly the news and that’s why i am calling you to help us fly it that it is not only Oyo rice that is not good but all the six states. Osibajo has been briefed since yesterday. The rice is not good for human consumption.

“Lagos is not returning their own, they are dumping everything inside Lagoon; Osun, Ogun and Ekiti are returning their portions to Lagos where it was disbursed,” the aide concluded.

Gov. Seyi Makinde

Prior to this action, the Oyo state government had been the only bold state to disclose to the world that the one thousand eight hundred bags of rice it received from the federal government through the Nigeria Customs Service to the state as part of COVID-19 palliatives, were all infested and unhealthy for consumption

The disclosure had been made shortly after the committee on distribution of relief materials and palliatives paid an inspection visit to the warehouse where the grains were kept

Speaking on behalf of the state government, the Executive Adviser to the governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande had stressed that after taking delivery of the donated rice, a quality control inspection was carried out repeatedly and the donation has now been rejected

Dr. Akande had however noted that the donated rice would be returned to the Nigeria Customs Service with the hope that it would be replaced with good quality.

The Executive Adviser further explained that the infested rice would not affect plans of the state government to commence distribution of palliatives to the people, adding that distribution would commence soonest

Also, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Honourable Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa while reiterating the position of state government, stressed that the wellbeing and healthy disposition of the people would not be compromised in the continuing fight to curtail further spread of the virus

Representatives of Oyo State government taking delivery of the Rice palliatives from Nigerian Customs officials

But in a swift response to the observations by the Oyo state government, following the rejection of the 1,800 bags of rice provided as palliative by the federal government to Oyo and other states, the Nigerian Custom Services, NIS, Oyo/Osun Area Command on Saturday, April 25, faulted claims of Oyo that its own shares of the rice have been infested and unfit for human consumption, declaring that officials of Oyo state government had checked the Ruce before evacuating them from the Customs Warehouse.

This clarification was credited to the public relations officer of the command, who declared that the claim by the Oyo State government was not only annoying but appalling.

According to the command, Governor Seyi Makinde’s executive assistant on agribusiness and special adviser on security matters, Dr Debo Akande and Fatai Owoseni respectively had allegedly come to its office to check the rice before evacuation from the warehouse.

“We were shocked to hear that the bags of rice were not good for consumption; these bags of rice are not expired. How can we now release expired rice for the public? This is very annoying.

“Oyo/Osun command has two warehouses, so the government representatives were the one that even chose the ones they wanted. Oyo State was the first to evacuate their rice before other states came to take their own”.

There are indications however that the command is in the process of replacing the the ‘bad’ rice with 600 new ones, even as they noted that although it is possible that a little number of the bags of rice might have an issue, that does not mean that all the bags of rice were not good for consumption, adding that efforts are ongoing to ease the tension and the customs will still react accordingly.

Recall that on April 20, The Oyo State Government took delivery of three truckloads of rice donated by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service for Oyo/Osun Area Command; Comptroller Helen Ngozi made the donation of three truckloads of rice to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development this evening.

While making the symbolic donation, she noted that the Nigeria Customs is also donating three truckloads of rice each to Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states as part of measures to cushion the hardship of Nigerians at this period.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa and the Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande took delivery of the donation on behalf of the Governor and the Oyo State Government.

They appreciated the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS),Federal Ministry of Humanitarian and Federal Government for the benevolent gesture, while promising that the palliative measures in plan by the state would reach those who need them the most.

The donation amounted up of 1,800 (50-kilogramme) bags of rice.

Additional report from Sola Charles

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