Governor Adegboyega Oyetola (Centre) at the launch of COVID-19 Relief Materials in Osogbo, Osun State

Fury over Oyetola’s distribution of alleged expired rice in Osun

* People condemn Osun Governor over quality, quantity of palliative materials

* Say ‘rice is not good at all, worse than COVID-19’

* Urge government not to extend lockdown beyond 2 weeks

* Allegation is more of politics than reality ─Government Official
Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect
In view of the prevailing socio-economic dislocations induced by the outbreak and subsequent spread of the dreadful Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria, the Federal Government and a considerable number of states in the country have taken practical measures to cushion the effects of the ravaging disease on Nigerians.

Accordingly, the Osun State Government recently launched and started the distribution of 6,020 bags of rice to the residents as an economic stimulus or palliative to the citizenry over the restrictions on movement to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the state.

Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, Governor of Osun State, in his address Wednesday, April 8, in the Governor’s Office in Osogbo, the state capital, said: “A total of 6,020 bags of 50kg rice will be distributed to the poor and the needy throughout the state, through door-to-door apolitical channels.

“This is an intervention of the state government as we await those of the committee which will follow very soon.”

Governor Oyetola noted that the food distribution would reach the beneficiaries through the 3, 010 polling units across the state.

He disclosed that the unit chairman and four other members shall be responsible for the distribution of the bags of rice at each polling unit.

Subsequently, the state government constituted a 21-man Osun State Food Relief Committee Tuesday, March 31 to coordinate the allocation of the relief package.

Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer (GO) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), serves as the Chairman, while Chief Adebayo Jimoh is the Secretary of the Committee.

According to Pastor Adeboye, the Committee would not rush to distribute palliative materials to residents of the state.

Sequel to the inauguration of the Committee, Oyetola said the state had identified five methods of distributing the palliative materials to the residents of the state.

Asiwaju Tunde Badmus, Alternate Chairman of the Osun State Food Relief Committee, also told journalists in Osogbo that “we are targeting N1billion to secure palliative materials for the residents.”

According to Asiwaju Badmus, “at the moment, we have N40 million and 14 trucks of food items on the ground, but we don’t want to rush to distribute the food items to residents.

“We will rather focus on putting up necessary measures so that food can reach all.”

He added: “When we met on Monday (April 6) to collect our engagement letters as members of the committee, we identified five methods we will use to distribute the palliative materials.

“We identified the Christian Association of Nigeria, Osun State Chapter, League of Imams and Alfas, two political parties at the grassroots (Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress), Organised labour union and traditional rulers.

“We are still expecting more donations from people, and soon we are going to start the distribution of the relief materials to the people through these five identified means.”

ConsumerConnect, however, reports that some residents of Osun State and potential beneficiaries from the palliative package have severally condemned the state government over the relief materials.

The concerned residents Thursday, April 9 apparently rejected the palliative measure offered them by the state government, as complained severely about the quality and quantity of the rice allocated to them.

They alleged that the rice distributed to them has expired, and that a resident can barely get a cup of rice in some polling units with large voters in a community.

Checks revealed that the residents have continued to express disgust over the condition of relief materials being given out by the state government.

It was learnt that at Ilobu, Okinni and Erin-Osun, residents were embittered over the development as some destroyed the bags of rice given to them, saying that it would not be enough to go round all of them.

Mr. Adewale Shittu, a resident, was reported to have condemned the state government for giving them such a meagre food after locking them down for over a week.

“This is so bad and sardonic. How would the government think of giving its citizens expired rice that they can’t feed their dogs at home?

“They asked us to stay at home and what they think we deserve is a cup of rice and less,” lamented.

At another polling unit in Osun State, residents were seen in an uncoordinated queue all scampering to get their shares, while others have described the palliative as an insult on their persons.

“We’re more than 1,000 voters here. How are we going to share two bags of rice? It’s an insult on all of us. The government is giving us this after spending seven days at home,” a resident said.

Whereas some aggrieved residents were said to have spilled the rice grains on the ground in another polling unit.

They said the rice had expired, and was not expected to be consumed by human beings.

Similarly, some Osun State residents who spoke to Nigerian Pilot in Osogbo loudly complained about the quality of rice the Governor Oyetola Administration distributed to them in especially polling units including Osogbo Ward 4, Units 18, 19 and 20 Baruwa Estate, Surulere Unit 10, Odi-Olowo Unit 5, Union Baptist Church Unit 12, Oloyede Poling Unit, Pepsi Cola, Orita Sabo, Osunkunle Ayetoro, Abija area and Ofatedo among others.

It was learnt that in Baruwa, Ogo-Oluwa area of the state capital, residents were seen gathered at the various polling units in their large numbers Thursday, April 9.

The upset residents, nonetheless, expressed disappointment over “small bag of rice on display among a group of people who subsequently cursed the persons who gave out such a paltry handout.”

Certain Lawal Wasiu in one of the units in Osogbo lambasted the state government for distributing what he termed “poisonous rice” to the citizens.

Wasiu stated that “it is glaring that this rice has been stored more than five years. They have turned us into goats.

“They are giving us poisonous rice instead of releasing us to go and work. We will go out if they try to extend the stay-at-home.

“This is not rice but COVID-22. The rice is not good at all. It is worse than COVID-19. They should not extend the lockdown beyond two weeks.

“It cannot work. They should release us and allow us to go and find means of living.”
Ajoke, another lady resident, said the best thing the government should have done was to release people to go back to their work.

She said: “Not only that the rice does not go round, despite sharing three milk tins per person, it is Coro-rice. It is not comestible.
“How can they give us this kind of rice? Are we goats or what? Even no animal can eat this rice. Do they want to poison us? We are not going to collect this from them.”

Likewise, Mr. Oluwole Joshua, a resident at Oloyede polling unit, in Pepsi Cola area, remarked that the item given to them is not commensurate with the level of sufferings the lockdown and stay-at-home order has caused the people.

Joshua stated that it was incumbent upon the government to feed them since it had compelled them to stay at home during this period.

The Osun State resident, nonetheless, threatened that if the government failed to provide reasonable palliative materials, they would be forced to go out for the usual businesses.

The government should look for a way of ameliorating suffering occasioned by the stay-at-home policy, he said.

In his reaction to the express allegation of the Osun State Government’s sharing expired rice, one of the government functionaries who preferred anonymity, said the rice was to be given to the needy and less-privileged.

On the meager quantity of rice distributed to the residents, he stated that “first and foremost, the rice that was shared, ordinarily, if they had allowed the rice to be given to those it meant for certainly, it would be enough because the rice is meant for the needy and the less-privileged.

“But you know the kind of society that we are, even if the people have, they will pretend as if they don’t have. To rather allow the thing to go round, they will still want to share.

“But what I would add is that, this is not the first and the last. Mr. Governor said the one by the committee is still coming.

“And I believe that apart from the one by the committee, there are appointees of the government who are also reaching out to the people in their constituencies and localities.

“Except from the mischief maker, it would be unfair to say what is being given is not enough.

“About the rice quality, the government official declared that “I don’t know where the news story is coming from because virtually all those people I have interacted with have not had the complaint about the quality of the rice.

“And no government would deliberately want to feed its citizens with low-quality rice, except if you would want to pretend as if you don’t know the man who is in the helms of affair.

“If a particular area is complaining, you and I should know that there is more to it. There is some politics being played as far as the matter is concerned. It’s more of politics than reality.”
Additional reports by Alexander Davis and Emmanuel Akosile.

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