Confusion and frustration have emerged following the distribution of rice palliatives promised by the Nigerian Federal Government to soften the impact of fuel subsidy removal on vulnerable citizens. The National Economic Council endorsed the initiative, which included the allocation of 40,000 bags of maize and N5 billion to each state. However, reports indicate that the distribution process has been marred by ambiguity and miscommunication.
An investigation by Saturday Vanguard revealed that there was a lack of clarity among the states about the N5 billion grant and rice palliative. The Federal Government reportedly credited states with N2 billion out of the promised N5 billion without clarifying the purpose of the funds. This uncertainty has led to confusion among the states, prompting Commissioners of Finance to meet with the Federal Government in an attempt to clear up misconceptions.
A government source indicated that the N2 billion was credited to state accounts, but the states were uncertain whether it was a grant or part of a loan. This confusion has left states unsure about how to proceed with the funds. In addition, reports suggest that the promised five trucks of rice have not been fully delivered to all states, causing further uncertainty and delays in the distribution process.
The situation has led to some states withholding the distribution of palliatives until clarity is provided by the Federal Government. Some states have received only partial deliveries of rice, and there have been allegations of party leaders hijacking distribution in some regions. A video circulating on social media highlighted the challenges faced in transparently distributing the palliative rice, further highlighting the complexities of the situation.
Amidst the confusion, critics have expressed their concerns about the effectiveness of such palliative measures. Fegalo Nsuke, President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), criticized the distribution of rice and monetary grants as inadequate solutions to address the economic challenges faced by Nigerians. He suggested that the government should focus on investing in public transport and encouraging competition to alleviate the economic crisis.
Furthermore, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe of the pan Niger Delta Elders Forum criticized the distribution approach, stating that governors are likely to share the funds and rice among political associates rather than effectively reaching the needy citizens. He emphasized the need for long-term economic measures, such as the operation of modular refineries and transacting in the local currency, to restore economic stability.
In various states, reports indicate different levels of progress in distributing the rice palliatives. Some states have received partial deliveries and have begun distribution, while others are still awaiting full deliveries from the Federal Government. As confusion persists, questions remain about the effectiveness of such palliatives in addressing the economic challenges triggered by the fuel subsidy removal.