By Mosunmola Ayobami,Ilorin
Kwara State government on Wednesday flagged off the distribution of rice palliatives to the most vulnerable persons in the state.
The coordinating committee said it would share at least 250,000 10kg bags in the first phase.
It would be recalled that Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on August 22, inaugurated a 12-man committee to coordinate the distribution of the palliatives purchased with the N2bn so far received from the Federal Government.
At the flag off in Ilorin, the Governor who was represented by the Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Rt (Hon) Yakubu Salihu, said the palliatives are only a show of empathy with the people as more sustainable initiatives are being implemented in phases.
The Governor said: “This is only a fraction of what we have done to identify with the people at this very critical moment of our national life. Palliatives are a stop-gap measure to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on the most vulnerable among us.
“Over the last few weeks, our government has rolled out different palliative measures to support the people in the formal and informal sectors. Also, we had earlier distributed the five trucks of rice we received from the Federal Government. We acknowledge the limits of this distribution in terms of the reach.
“Today, we are flagging off the distribution of the first consignments of rice we purchased with the N2bn so far received from the Federal Government. We are distributing at least 250,000 10kg bags of rice in this phase.
“Beneficiaries will be identified on a nonpartisan basis by the committee of eminent Kwarans. This committee has continued to consult with different blocs of our communities as well as evidence-based registers of vulnerable people domiciled with key agencies of government such as the health insurance, primary healthcare agencies, as well as the World Bank. Distribution will be done in accordance with the timetable and logistics of the committee.
“For me, the most important aspect of today’s event is not the quantity or the sheer reach of the grains to be distributed. The most significant thing is the spirit of empathy that is behind what we are doing. The government at all levels empathises with the people across all social strata of our society. We are committed to taking every step possible to help the people cope with the inconveniences of this time.
“Huge investments are being made to boost the manufacturing sector, strengthen local production of food through commercial agriculture, local production of CNG and electric vehicles, and mass employment for young people in different aspects of the economy.
“We are a resilient people. I have no doubt that we will emerge from this tough situation much better and stronger as a nation.
“On that note, I have the honour to flag off the distribution of these palliative. I urge our people to trust the committee to do justice to the assignment, bearing in mind that the whole essence of this modest effort is to show concern to the plight of the people, especially the most vulnerable among us.”
The event was attended by members of palliative committee and beneficiaries of the first batch, including representatives of Persons living with disabilities; WOWICAN; Marketmen and women group; Hausa community; Igbo Community; South-south community; Youth Council; NANS; Youth CAN; Orphanage; NUT; NUJ; TUC; FOMWAN; Non-indigene community; NURTW; NLC and Artisans groups.
The committee chairperson CP Ebunoluwarotimi Adelesi said the flag off marked the beginning of the exercise, which would see the palliatives being taken to all the 16 local government after agreeing the modalities with all the stakeholders and interest groups.
“The committee has the mandate to distribute approximately 250,000 bags of 10kg rice and advise the government on effective deployment of the N1bn worth of maize from the Maize Reserve (SMR) through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Livestock Farmers across the state,” she said.
The committee has since started its assignment by directing Director of Personnel Management (DPM) of the local government area to collaboratively work with Primary Healthcare Development Agency in a bid to generate a list of potential beneficiaries and vulnerable indigenes across the nooks and crannies of the state, she added.
CP Adelesi explained that the exercise targets as many vulnerable persons as possible, promising to deploy multidimensional and all-encompassing leadership acumen in making sure that the palliative items get to the targeted vulnerable across the three senatorial districts of the state.
In their separate responses, representative of Persons with disabilities Alfred Oluwole; representative of FOMWAN Hajia Bilqees Oladimeji; representative of WOWICAN Mrs Kehinde Awe; and the President, Kwara State Artisans Congress Alhaji Jimoh Adeshina applauded AbdulRazaq for this initiative aimed at cushion the effects of fuel subsidy.
“We know the cost of a bag of rice in the market today. So, we thank the Federal and the state government for this initiative. We really appreciate our able and unique Governor for his passion in improving the welfare of the citizenry,” Adeshina said.
“We are grateful to the state government for following the step of the federal government for this bold initiative. We’re very grateful.”
Some beneficiaries took turns to commend the government for the palliatives.