The state government says the rice it received from the federal government is not fit for human consumption.
The Oyo state government says the rice it received from President Muhammadu Buhari as palliative to cushion the effect of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, is infested with weevils and is unfit for human consumption.
In early April, the president ordered the distribution of 150 trucks of rice seized from smugglers by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to the 36 states of the federation.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the move was one of the fiscal stimulus measures directed by the president as response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the country and the crash in the price of oil.
Ahmed said the seized trucks of rice had been handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for onward distribution to Nigerians.
However, the Oyo state government now says its share of the rice, totaling 1,800 bags, is no better than damaged goods.
“We received these items from the federal government via the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and we brought them to the warehouse and it was in the process of further inspection that we discovered that almost all the rice has been infested with weevils and some other materials, and on that basis, we formed a committee to re-inspect it so that we can definitely be sure of what we have received,” said the Executive Assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, Debo Akande, according to The Nation.
“We think this is not definitely in the position of consumption for human beings at this point in time, and as such, the materials cannot be distributed as part of palliatives within the state.
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“We don’t want to start providing solution to a problem and then start creating another problem.
“We have inspected it and done a random selection and we have seen that similar things apply across board,” he added.
“We have agreed to return all these to the source, and if there is any replacement of good quality that could be sent to us, we will be glad enough to receive it.”
Among the government officials in Oyo state who received the ‘damaged goods’ from the federal government were Akande, Commissioners Ojemuyiwa Ojekunle (Agric), Chief Bayo Lawal (Special Duties), Mr Seun Fakorede (Youth and Sports), Mrs Faosat Sanni (Women Affairs and Social Inclusion) and Mrs Funmilayo Orisadeyi (Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters).
At the time of writing, Nigeria has confirmed 1095 coronavirus cases, with 32 deaths and 208 recoveries.
Oyo state has reported 18 cases.
Globally, reported coronavirus cases have crossed 2.7 million, with 189,970 fatalities, according to a recent Reuters tally.