COVID-19: Buhari orders Customs to release 150 trucks of seized rice to Nigerians


…as Ogun discovers two new cases

By Bankole Taiwo, Seun Ibiyemi and Tunde Shorunke

President Muham madu Buhari has ordered distribution of 150 trucks of rice seized by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to the 36 states of the federation.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.

The news conference was on the fiscal stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 Pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock. Ahmed said the seized trucks of rice had been handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for onward distributions to Nigerians.

She added that in addition to this, the president had also approved distribution of grains from strategic grain reserves across the country.

The minister stated that as part of the effort to support the farmers, the president also approved reduction of the price of fertilizer from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag. She added that this was another measure to give subsidy to farmers in view with the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

According to her, more measures will be taken to provide broader benefits to the citizens.

We don’t want to rush and announce measures that will end up benefitting only a few of the segments. Our interest is to make sure that as much as possible a lot of Nigerians are productive and have liquidity in their hands.

This will help to increase the consumption thereby assist to improve the economy.

This is not something we will announce in a hurry without consulting with the central ministry and also without consulting with the key participants in the sector” she added.

The minister noted that the emerging health and economic risks resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic and decline in international oil prices posed existential threats to Nigeria’s economy, healthcare system, national security, as well as the lives of the citizens. She emphasised that extra-ordinary measures would be required, as the situation evolved, to address these challenges

In the meantime, the executive governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun on Monday announced that two new cases of Covid-19 has just been discovered in the state bringing the total number of cases recorded so far to six.

Prince Dapo Abiodun said that while one of the newly infected person is a resident of Mowe, a border town with Lagos State under Obafemi Owode local government area of the state, the other person is from Ilaro in Yewa South local government.

The governor stated that the two newly infected persons have no travel history neither have they been in contact with someone who just came back from abroad explaining that these two new cases are putting lies to what some people do say that Coronavirus pandemic is the disease of the elites.

Gov Abiodun disclosed this at a press briefing held at his country home, Iperu Remo on Covid-19 lockdown and updates in the state.

The governor explained that the state will soon commence Covid-19 random testing across the state with the aid of a mobile laboratory saying that this would help a lot to determine the prevalence of the disease and of course ramp up adequate preparation curtail it.

Prince Abiodun disclosed that the state government from today would begin to receive equipment for molecular biomedical laboratory which would be completed within the next few days. He explained that the Molecular laboratory will help to hasten result for Covid-19 test which for now is done in Lagos and takes an average of five or three days before it is ready.

The governor insisted that as against the misinformation flying all over the social media that the state government Covid-19 palliative is one per street or one per Community Development Association, (CDAs), the palliative is for an household of five people comprising of father, mother and three children and the intention is to reach at least about 2000 households per wards translating to about three million people resident in the state.

Abiodun disclosed that this Covid-19 palliative pack which contains 5kg of rice, beans, garri, sachets of tomato paste, groundnut oil among others are to be shared in packs and not in pieces to the poorest of the poor, the elderly and other vulnerables.

The governor said that the misinformation must have been the handiwork of some politicians who rather than join hands to combat the raging Covid-19 pandemic would prefer to play dirty politics with what is regarded as a matter of life and death vowing that his government would however not be distracted but remained focused towards providing responsible leadership this critical period.

While commending the people of the state for cooperating with the government since the lockdown began last Friday, Gov Abiodun said that between the hours of 7am to 2pm when the lockdown will be relax today, residents of the state must wear face mask, observe social distancing, other personal hygiene while those who have no pressing needs to attend to should stay at home.

The governor stated that the discovery of two new cases in the state with no history of travelling outside the country or having contact with someone with recent travel history confirmed that residents of the state must take very seriously the ongoing lockdown order to flatten the curve of the deadly Coronavirus disease.