Oyo and the politics of palliative distribution 

BAYO AGBOOLA reports that Federal Government’s palliative has deepened the schism between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state.

As state governments across the country are presently busy sorting out the distribution of palliatives arising from the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government, the gesture is apparently generating political crisis in Oyo state between the main opposition in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The beginning

It all started when the APC in a statement on Tuesday August 29 cried out over alleged diversion of funds and food items donated to the state by the federal government to cushion the hardship experienced by the citizens.

Oyo APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Olawale Sadare, accused the PDP administration in the state of deliberately withholding information relating to the receipt, distribution and management of funds and food items delivered to the Oyo state government as the share for the people of the state.

APC’s salvo

The statement said, “Virtually all the states of the federation have declared the receipt of, at least, two billion naira out of the five billion which federal government has earmarked as funds to be paid to the poorest of the poor through the states”. 

“Last week, neighbouring Osun and Kwara states acknowledged the payment of the sum of two billion naira to their purse but Governor Makinde kept this away from the public knowledge in his usual character. 

“For about six weeks now, the whereabout of the three thousand bags of rice which Governor Makinde got from Abuja remains unknown to the people of the state and there are indications that these have been diverted the same way they did with Covid-19 relief materials presented by federal government, corporate organisations and individual philanthropists” .

Oyo APC stressed, “We also put it to Governor Makinde to explain the reason behind his order on local government council chairmen to transfer (to the state government account) the two tranches of N56m paid to their council accounts between August 16 and 18 this year by the federal government as the shares of the third tier of government. 

“The 33 local government councils in the state got a total of N3.696b but they could not utilise a dime from the funds for the purpose which the money was meant to serve.”

According to APC, “It is evident that the orchestrated Palliative Committee set up by Governor Makinde about four weeks ago was just to fool the public as the committee would not have anything to do in the long run. 

“We won’t be surprised, though, if the state government released a few bags of rice and noodles to the committee in the coming days and ask them to distribute same to few PDP members just to create an impression that the target population of poor people in the society have benefitted.” 

Government’s position 

Amidst the APC claims, Oyo state government same day at a press briefing after the state executive council meeting by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said it has earmarked N8, 633, 996, 464.00 for palliatives by the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER) committee in the state. 

He further said that local government areas in the state, infused the sum of N2, 636, 871, 500), into food palliatives, while the Oyo state government expended Five Billion, Nine hundred and Ninety-seven million, One hundred and twenty-four thousand, Nine hundred and sixty four naira (N5,997,124,964. 00).

Prince Oyelade hinted that Governor Seyi Makinde and some principal officers of the state government would flag-off the distribution of palliatives Wednesday while full distribution in each geo-political zones would commence on Thursday, to cover 200,000 households in the first phase.

He said the distribution would be done in different batches, to bring succour to citizens of Oyo state and that “the distribution is aimed at alleviating the pains of residents of the state over fuel subsidy removal by the federal government”.

He stated, “Items to be distributed include 10kg rice, 5 kg of garri, 5kg beans, 5kg elubo and 1 ltr of vegetable oil”

Flag off

Flagging off the distribution of the palliatives on Wednesday, August 30, with the symbolic presentation of food items to residents of Oyo administrative zone at the mini stadium, Oyo town, Governor Seyi Makinde minced no words in disclosing that the state government will distribute 40,000 bag of rice to  200,000 household in the state as fuel subsidy removal palliative.

He stressed, “Oyo state adopts the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery (SAfER) because it is better compared to palliatives as household finances will be positively impacted in the long run through SAfER as the state government “is more concerned about the long term sustainability of its action towards fight against the ongoing economic hardship occasioned by fuel subsidy removal.”

“Some people have been going round on radio and social media asking where is the 3,000 bags of rice that the federal government gave to Oyo state, others are saying federal government gave them 5 billion naira, they’ve embezzled our money. Some other people even said there is no trust, there’s trust deficit between the government and the people, is that how it is in Oyo state? The government of Oyo state, your government will never lie or deceive you about anything going on. We are one of the first states to announce that federal government gave us 3000 bag of rice.  I stated this in my newsletter on the 10th of August because we plan to distribute this food relief package to 200,000 household”.

The governor maintained that Oyo state government committed more resources to the provisions made for distribution because the 3,000 bags of rice given to the state by federal government was insufficient to circulate the projected number of poorest of the poor given the prevailing economic situation. 

Makinde said the state went further to procure additional 37,000 bags of rice as well as beans, gari, cassava flour, and vegetable oil from local markets across the various administrative zones including Oyo, Ogbomoso, Oke-ogun, Ibarapa, and Ibadan as a way of ploughing back state funds into its local economy.

“We’re here to deliver your SAFER package to you. When I checked the dictionary meaning of palliatives, it focus on symptoms, we want to attack the roots but one thing about sustainable action is that it takes proper planning and strategy.If it were only the 3000 bag of rice the federal government gave to us that would be distributed to 200,000 household, maybe one person may not get more than a tin cup of rice. 

“So, we took our time to plan because both in the short and long term we’re thinking about securing our economy. We bought an additional 37,000 bag of rice to add to the 3000 bag the federal government gave to us making a total of 40,000 bag of rice. That is why each of the 200,000 household will be getting 10kg bag of rice.  

“We didn’t stop there, we also procured for each household, 5kg bag of beans, 5kg bag of gari, 5kg bag of cassava flour, and one bottle of vegetable oil. But one thing I want you to know about what we’re distributing is that we’re distributing what we produced locally apart from the rice.”

Governor Makinde at the flagg off ceremony listed other framework covered under SAfER to include ‘Agropreneurs (food security) food security), health, transportation, adding that his administpalliatived continue to prioritise the welfare and well-being of the people.

With the flaggings off of the distribution of the subsidy removal palliatives by the Oyo state government, all eyes are now on the programme to, at least, determine the sincerity of the exercise and the true commitment of the Governor Makinde as well as that of the opposition APC to the plights of the down trodden masses in and across Oyo state.

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