Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Government declared that it has set aside N2 billion for the purchase of food items from farmers and fishermen in the state for distribution to residents.
The State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, made the declaration yesterday when he briefed journalists at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike also disclosed that the state’s COVID-19 index case, a 19-year old model, would be discharged before this weekend.
He stated that the state had to embark on the purchase of food to empower both the farmers and cushion the effects of the restrictions on the residents of the state.
Wike said: “The state government has set aside the sum of N2 billion to buy-off farm products from farmers and fishermen in the state. We will distribute same to residents of the state as part of the palliatives.
“We want to ensure that all yams, plantain, fish and other farm produce do not leave Rivers State. It is time for our farmers and fishermen to go back to their vocation.”
He announced the setting up of a 33-man committee that would be chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo while the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Fred Kpakol, would serve as its secretary. The committee would handle the food palliative.
He assured that the food items would get to the grassroots since the chairmen of the Local Government Areas in the state are members of the committee.
Another sub-committee, according to the governor, would be set up to ensure the items got to the wards and communities.
He restated his position that the federal government is politicising the grants it sent to the states for the fight against the COVID-19.
According to him, it was wrong for the federal government to give grants to Lagos State only without caring about what caring about other states.
“Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria, we agree, but Rivers State is the oil and gas capital where all the country’s money comes from.
“We would have recorded more cases if we did not take the proactive step we took by shutting down all our borders and stopping flights into Rivers State,” the governor said.
Wike also stated that the state’s 2020 budget might be reviewed to take care of the extra spending on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The budget already provided for this contingency. What we have there we will use. But if we have further need, we will go back to the State House of Assembly,” he said.