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FG vows suitability of 1,800 palliative bags of rice sent to States as Akwa Ibom sends its own for test before distribution

… Akwa Ibom State spends N1b on COVID-19

By Raphael Izokpu

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State said his government has so far spent about one Billion Naira to tackle the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the State.

Stating that the Restriction of Movement order in the State will be relaxed when the situation improves, the Governor also said that a gradual reopening of the system on order of economic importance of sectors would be considered.

Governor Udom also said that the 1,800 bags of rice sent to his State by the Federal government as palliatives to cushion the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, may not be suitable for consumption, noting that the rice would be subjected to scientific test to ascertain whether such should be distributed to the people of the State. 

Speaking the State capital, Uyo on Monday evening, the Governor said that COVID-19 has enabled his government to continually equip hospitals, announcing that the 300-bed isolation centre at Ituk Mbang was near completion.

He said COVID-19 never met Akwa Ibom State unprepared as it already had isolation centre with 25 bed/modern facilities, 13 ventilators, functional intensive care unit and digitised/functional situation room and call center manned by 50 medical experts.

On the proposed random testing for COVID-19 in the State, Gov. Emmanuel said it was a waste of government resources to embark on such, adding that anyone who needed to be tested would be tested according to the guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

His words, “It would absolutely be a waste of resources if we go on random testing. No one who needed to be tested that had not been tested. Everything we do follows NCDC guidelines. On lockdown, I will come back to announce very soon. We were waiting to also consult with other States because in situations like this, no state can work in isolation. For Akwa Ibom State, once we have a trend analysis and the graph is showing downward, we will do a gradual reopening of the system based on the economic importance of those sectors.”

On the 1,800 bags of rice received from the federal government, Governor Udom said that he would not share the rice to the people because they had shown signs of decay and may not be suitable for consumption.

According to him, “for the relief materials from Federal Government, we got 1800 bags of custom bonded warehouse rice. That gift is not good for me to distribute to my citizens. We have sent it for test, but it doesn’t look good enough for consumption. The only palliative we have gotten from the Federal Government is 1,800 bags of custom bonded warehouse rice. As I am taking to you, the rice is in the warehouse. It is a gift. We have sent it for test and until the test result is out, we will not distribute it to our citizens. It is not good for consumption.”

Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs Sadiya Umar-Farouq, has however denied claims that the rice sent to some States were in bad condition, saying that they were certified by NAFDAC before they were distributed.

”As you may recall, we mentioned here that we distributed the rice relief to the States. The rice was handed over to us by the Nigerian Customs Service and it was assessed by NAFDAC who issued a clearance before the goods were released for onward distribution to the States. So, as far as we are concerned, the rice was certified fit for human consumption. We had an issue in Oyo which was officially reported this morning but two or three days ago, we saw news flying around that all the rice that we took to the Southwestern part of the country were bad and that Lagos had taken its delivery to the lagoon and other States have rejected theirs. I want to say very categorically that it is fake news. It is not true. This afternoon, I spoke with the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi and he assured me that the one he received in Ekiti and other states are in good condition,” she said

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