HURIWA to Tinubu: Stop ‘Audio’ Distributions of Food Reliefs

HURIWA to Tinubu: Stop ‘Audio’ Distributions of Food Reliefs

Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the hierarchy of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to employ transparent mechanisms in the distribution of emergency relief foods to poor Nigerians.

“Since over a week or so that the office of the President announced the release for immediate distribution of 42, 000 MT grans nationwide to poor households in the Country, is not so clear whether the relief food stuffs are simply being distributed to ghost households because it is not very clear to the poor Nigerians how, where and who are the officials or persons responsible for making sure that these essential foodstuffs reach the poorest of the poor. Inquiries we have made in the six geopolitical zones by our members have come out with no positive details on the transparency of the distribution process.”

Against the backdrops of the alleged shady, shoddy and opaque distribution modalities, the Rights group is advocating to President Tinubu and the hierarchy of the Nigerian Customs Service to engage credible Civil Rights groups operating in the diverse zones of Nigeria and the 36 states and the FCT, to observe the processes and mechanisms of these distributions of emergency food reliefs and to publicly publish their findings for the benefits of Nigerians and as a way of infusing transparency and accountability.”

HURIWA has also advocated that respected traditional rulers and religious leaders in the federation should be enlisted to partake in the distribution of these food reliefs since these sets of Nigerian cultural and religious leaders, know the very households in their localities that are multidimensionally poor. The Rights said only Civil society organisations that are credible, tested and trusted should be engaged in these processes.

In a media statement by HURIWA, endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Rights group said millions of Nigerians who are the poorest of the poor have so far only seen on television and news pages that the federal government and the customs are sharing foods to poor Nigerians and as long as they are concerned only ghost Nigerians are getting them.

HURIWA recalled that the Federal Government, on Wednesday last week, announced that it would distribute the 42,000 metric tonnes of grains approved by President Bola Tinubu to poor Nigerians at no cost.

It also announced that the Department of State Services and the National Emergency Management Agency had been engaged in the distribution process to ensure that the commodities get to the targeted citizens nationwide.

It disclosed this through the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, at a ministerial press briefing in Abuja.

Last week, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release about 42,000MT of maize, millet and other commodities from the national strategic reserves to address the rising cost of food in Nigeria.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this in Abuja after a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.

Idris also stated that the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria had committed to releasing about 60,000MT of rice to the markets.

HURIWA recalled too that in the wake of the current high level of hardship in the country, the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, had disclosed plans to distribute seized food items to Nigerians.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, said the food items will be distributed after they have been certified fit for consumption.

In a statement by Customs National Public Relations officer, Abdullahi Maiwada on Tuesday, Adeniyi reaffirmed his commitment towards advancing President Bola Tinubu’s food security agenda.

“Furthermore, to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians and improve access to essential food items, the Nigeria Customs Service will facilitate the direct disposal of food items forfeited to the Federal Government.

“These items will be certified fit for consumption by relevant agencies and made available to ordinary Nigerians nationwide through equitable distribution in our Areas of Operations,” he said.

The statement, however, did not disclose when the planned distribution will commence.

HURIWA has taken exception to these untoward development whereby the government will sensationally announce to Nigerians that foodstuffs are being shared but in actual facts, nothing truly trickle down to the very poorest of the poor who need these immediate relief materials. HURIWA said the National Emergency Management Agency is elitist and not known to be transparent and accountable therefore the Rights group is demanding that President Tinubu orders his ministers responsible for the emergency food reliefs to adopt open, public, credible, transparent and accountable ways and means of ensuring that the actual foods get to those poor households whose members are starving and are in the state of near-death as we write.

Press statement dated on 21st February 2024

By Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

National Coordinator of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

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