How food palliative rekindled hope in Kogi 

The indigent and downtrodden in Kogi state last week received what was known as the first tranche of food palliatives meant for the state. SALIHU OYIBO reports on reactions from every part of the state where the palliatives were distributed and the state government’s reaction to an infraction from a council area.

Last week, Kogi state government commenced the distribution of food palliatives to vulnerable households across the 239 wards that constituted the 21 local government areas of the state.

The impact of the palliative on the lives of the poorest of the poor in the rural areas of the state is unmeasurable based on reports from every nook and cranny of the state.

Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo of Kogi state last week Tuesday flagged off the first quarter of distribution of the palliatives of food item specifically bags of 50kg rice. This was in line with efforts of the state government to ensure that the items reach out to vulnerable residents who bear the brunt of the fuel subsidy removal.

Ododo’s charge

Speaking during the flag off, Ododo warned political appointees to steer clear of the food palliatives distributed to alleviate the suffering of the downtrodden in the state.

The governor who emphasised the need for the people at the grassroots to benefit from the rice palliative, vowed to sanction any political appointees that may wish to divert or hoard the bags of rice.

According to him, “This palliative is to alleviate the current hardship people are passing through and it should reach the poorest of the poor at the grassroot. This intervention is meant for the people and modalities for distributions are water-tight and we have put a mechanism in place to apprehend and sanction those who may wish to divert the palliative.

“Government appointees are exempted from the palliative. The palliative is not for APC alone; it would not be distributed along party, ethnic or religious lines rather it is meant for the good people of Kogi state.

“I will not condone any act of indiscipline as I would personally monitor the distribution of the rice to ensure that the palliative reaches the downtrodden that gave the mandate to serve them,” the governor stated.

The state commissioner for humanitarian affairs, Hajia Rabiatu Okute in her remarks said the distribution of the palliative in the state was aimed at alleviating the suffering of citizens as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.

She stated that the palliative which is the first and would be on quarterly basis will push hunger to zero level in the state.

She said, “This palliative is part of the electioneering campaign promises and I am assuring the people of the state that more dividends of democracy will be delivered by the Governor Ododo-led administration,” she assured.

NLC too

In his goodwill message, the state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Gabriel Amari thanked the governor for being sensitive to the plight and suffering of Kogi people as he noted that the distribution of palliative would go a long way to reduce the high rate of hunger especially at the grassroots and ultimately crimes.

He assured that the congress would ensure that the bags of rice reach every workers in the state.

Apparently, expressions of joy and relief were on the faces of teeming beneficiaries across the 21 local government areas following this development, but events shortly after thus reveals that some council chairmen diverted the rice in defiance of the state government directive.

Reports from LGAs

However, in Kabba-Bunu local government area all the 156 polling units across the council received 6 bags of 50kg rice per polling unit which was shared equitably to residents regardless of party affiliations as directed by the governor.

A resident of the local government area Mrs Fumilayo Balogun who benefited from the palliative expressed satisfaction with the steps taken so far in the distribution of the rice.

Also in his words of appreciation, Joash Onemayin, chairman Persons With Disabilities (PWD) in Kabba commended the governor for the laudable programme saying, “On behalf of the PWD in Kogi state, particularly, in Kabba Bunu LGA, I just want to say thank you. You are a person with a golden heart. We appreciate all the support we have enjoyed so far. God will continue to guide you right throughout your administration and beyond.”

A community leader in Ibaji local government area who is also a beneficiary of the palliative, Mr Joseph Masoka, said the governor has really done well by providing the palliatives for the less privilege in the society. He therefore used the opportunity to thank Governor Ododo for the concern he has for the people.

In the statement of Alhaji Salifu Adejo, the APC divisional party chairman of Idah LGA, he said 1,200 bags of rice was allocated to the local government for onward distribution to the people of the council.

“I was in Lokoja the state capital two days ago to take the consignment of our palliative out of the benevolence of the number one citizen of the state Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo who said stomach infrastructure should be given utmost priority, knowing fully well that Nigeria as a country is passing through a lot of challenges as majority of the population are 99 hungry due to the current economic hardship.

“The governor came up with this initiative of sharing rice to the people who need it most and this is a gesture the people of Kogi state can not forget in a hurry.

“Ododo has promised to run all inclusive government and he stated it clearly that the poorest of the poor should be allowed to benefit from the food palliative and we are happy that the rice was distributed to all the wards and polling units in Idah local government area without any political and religion colouration,” he stated.

Also commenting, Hon Haruna Aliyu the caretaker chairman of Ajaokuta LGA thanked God Almighty, saying they appreciated Governor Ododo for putting smile on the faces of the downtrodden who are suffering as a result of the fuel subsidy removal by the federal government.

He said that the local government was given 1,200 bags of rice and has been distributed accordingly to the people of 14 wards in the local government.

“The bags of rice belonged to the people and not any political party; therefore we ensured that it got to every body especially those that need it most. Our governor had warned during the flag off ceremony that the food palliative is for every body and on our part as leaders at the local level, we ensured that the rice got to the people without any bias,” he said.

As a scape goat

Sadly, despite the warning from the Governor Ododo that the palliative should not in any be diverted for any reason, the Transition Chairman of Ofu local government area Hassan Atawodi was allegedly found wanting as it was reliably gathered that he diverted the palliatives meant for his local government to another place.

In that wise, it could be inferred that Atawodi’s immediate removal from office was inline with zero tolerance of Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo’s fight against corruption.

Speaking on the removal of the Ofu transition chairman, the Kogi state youth leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mohammed U Mohammed, commended Governor Ododo for what he called the zero tolerance for corruption by the present administration in the state.

He however applauded the state sovernor for his sincere commitment towards the plight of his people.