Rivers State Government has earmarked N2 billion to procure food from farmers and fishermen that would be distributed to people in the state to cushion the effect of closure of the boundaries and markets.
The state governor, Nyesom Wike, who disclosed this yesterday, said that government’s decision to spend N2 billion for purchase of food, such as garri, yam, plantain, palm oil, fishes and other agricultural products from farmers and fishermen directly, was to ensure that no food produced locally leave the state.
Wike said that the government had already set up a 33-man committee to deal with farmers and fishermen in the state.
The governor, who stated that the N2 billion was part of the money appropriated in the 2020 budget of the state by the House of Assembly as contingency fund, said the state was not unmindful of the hardship the closure of the state boundaries and markets have caused all who live and do business in the state.
Wike stressed that if the government had not taken proactive measures to close the boundaries, several persons, particularly those in the oil sectors whose health status had not been verified, would have flooded the state.
He expressed optimism that the index case in the state might be discharged this week once the last test result required to certify her free of COVID-19 is got.
Meanwhile, the governor has charged the committee on palliatives to cushion the hardship caused by the measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the state to ensure that the foodstuff from the state government get to less-privileged persons.
Wike, who gave the charge while inaugurating the committee in Government House yesterday, urged members of the committee not to consider party affiliations while carrying out their duties but to work selflessly.
He said: “The distribution of these foodstuff has nothing to do with party membership. It should get to all less-privileged people. “That is why we have clerics, security personnel and other people in the committee. There should be no application of sentiment in the sharing.”
The governor said that the committee would reach out to the 23 local councils of the state and that they must exercise patience till it gets to them.
“We will reach out to the 23 local councils of the state. No local council will be exempted.
“But Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local councils where we have the concentration of Rivers people will get the first attention,” he said.
The governor also directed the committee to ensure orphanage, security agencies and other groups get the palliatives. He described the situation as a war where the entire world is being decimated by the virus, adding that the fight to defeat Coronavirus must be sustained.