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Palliatives: Poor not yet breathing

…FG’s rice palliative triggers anger in states

As 50 persons share 50kg bag of rice, some receive 2 cups ν Recipients say scheme is mockery of the poor ν Demand serious interventions to cushion biting hardship

By Tony John (Port Harcourt), Lateef Dada (Osogbo), Scholastica Onyeka (Makurdi), Layi Olarewaju (Ilorin), Geoffrey Anyanwu (Enugu), Okey Sampson (Umuahia), Paul Osuyi (Asaba) and George Onyejiuwa

It was a pitiable sight across the country last week as some states started the sharing of rice palliatives promised by the Federal Government to cushion the harsh effects of rising hardship foisted on poor Nigerians by fuel subsidy removal.

President Bola Tinubu had on May 29, during his inauguration, announced extempore that fuel subsidy was gone even when his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, had made provision for the gradual winding down of fuel subsidy, putting the removal date till the end of June.

Thus the unnecessary and sudden presidential proclamation triggered untold hardship as goods and services promptly responded to the announcement with their availability and prices hitting the roof top.

As the Organised Labour and the people rose hysterically in pain to complain about the excruciating cost of living, President Tinubu announced a N5 billion palliative to be distributed through the states to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal on the people though most of the states said that they only received N2 billion out of the announced N5 billion.

However, what the people are getting across the country as the sharing of the palliatives started is nothing to write home about, making most of the beneficiaries to be angry with some of them rejecting the gesture outrightly.

Indeed, when our correspondents went to town to monitor the sharing of the palliatives, some of them were confronted with   shocking revelations: some 15 recipients were handed a-10kg bag of rice. In some instances, some families received just two cups of rice.

Therefore, in anger some of the beneficiaries descended heavily on the government, describing the so-called palliatives as embarrassing, shameful, scam, preferring that the government stem the cost of living rather than giving them handouts as palliatives.

Some, equally preferred that the cost of fuel be made affordable, insisting that the people were long used to taking care of themselves with little or no support from the government.

Regarding how the N2 billion cash was being distributed, the state governments didn’t seem to have clear templates; everything about the sharing looked cloudy and shrouded. The doubt of the cash is already giving a life to what the people have been thinking about, that the same N2 billion might as well go the way of other palliatives in the past. 

In this report, we bring to you some of what is happening in some of the states.

Rivers State: Wards receive 5 bags of rice each, N2b sharing formula unknown

Rivers State received 16,800 bags of rice and N2 billion as palliative from the Federal Government, to cushion the biting effect of subsidy removal.

The receipt was disclosed by the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

He said that the palliative was to help specifically the poorest of the poor to deal with the excruciating pains of fuel subsidy removal.

At the inauguration of the Palliative Distribution Committee, Fubara appointed the state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Desmond Akawor, as chairman based on his experience in handling such tasks.

On the modality for sharing, Sunday Sun gathered that each political unit was given five bags of rice. The sharing was done at the central unit and was meant for the poor people in the rural areas.

Rivers State residents confirmed the distribution and sharing of the bags of rice, but added that the state government had not disclosed how the money (N2 billion) would be shared. 

Mrs Margaret Deenua from Khana Local Government Area said: “I am aware of the distribution and sharing of five bags of rice to each of the political units in Rivers State. Our political unit has received our own. But, I am not among the beneficiaries because the palliative is meant for the poor in our communities.

“But, what I haven’t heard about is the cash. Nobody (government) has told Rivers people how the money would be shared. Or, is it going to be for projects? That we don’t know yet.”

Another resident, Mr Michael Chike, told Sunday Sun that the sharing was done apolitically and peacefully.

He said: “Talking about how the sharing was done, there was nothing like ‘this was for PDP or APC.’ You know, these are the two major political parties in Rivers.

“In fact, with the way the sharing was going on, one would conclude that we have just one political party in the state.  All the people were together and nobody complained.

“In my local government, Etche, the sharing committee members were selected majorly from PDP and APC. It was purely community-based, unlike before, when a similar situation was treated based on party affiliation.

“So, in this case, communities owned their distribution and sharing because they knew the people. Although the quantity given to beneficiaries was not much, nobody complained; it was done in an orderly manner.”

Osun State: Residents reject palliative, describing it as rubbish, embarrassing

In Osun State, some market women, civil society groups, and associations rejected the rice distributed by the state government.

The state government through the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, disclosed that the 6,300 bags received had been distributed through the leadership in the 30 local government and the area offices.

According to the template, Iwo, Odo-Otin Osogbo with 15 wards would get 284 bags each; Ifelodun and Oriade with 12 wards each would get 227 bags; Ife East with seven wards would get 84 bags, while the area offices, and Modakeke, would get 56 bags.

Also, local government areas like Atakumosa West, Ayedaade, Boripe, Ede North, Ejigbo, Ife Central, Ife South, Ila, Ilesa East, Irepodun, Irewole, Isokan and Olorunda with 11 wards would receive 208 bags of rice.

The local government with 10 wards such as Ayedire, Atakumosa East, Boluwaduro, Ede South, Egbedore, Ifedayo, Ilesa West, Ife North, Obokun, Orolu, and Ola-Oluwa would get 189 bags of rice each.

But, the market women in MDS, Osogbo, described the palliative as “rubbish and embarrassing,” saying that they had rejected the rice.

According to the market women, five congos of rice was sent to the whole MDS market with about 300 shops. The rice according to them, had been sent back to the Iyaloja (market leader).

When our correspondent visited the Iyaloja, Alhaja Monsurat Karowosaye, she said nothing was given to the MDS market, adding: “I cannot say more than that.”

Also, the Artisan Workers Union described the palliative as ridiculous.

A leader who pleaded anonymity said: “Osogbo and Olorunda local governments got 15 bags of rice for the Artisan Workers Union whereas we have 54 associations registered under the union.

“In Osogbo, the rewire/battery chargers’ union had between six and seven zones; they were given seven congos.”

A civil society group, the Osun Mastermind (TOM), also condemned the distribution of the rice through the local government caretakers, alleging that one bag of rice was given to all the civil societies in the state.

In a state-of-the-state address by the Executive Director of TOM, Prof Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli, on Tuesday, the group said: “As many organisations have clamoured, we also join our voice to the request for Osun government palliatives to cushion the effect of subsidy removal on common citizens who face daily hardship because of the rising cost of goods and services.

“While the Federal Government has made certain palliative provisions, the Osun State government has remained ominously silent on what it will be giving to the state’s people as palliatives even when it has confirmed the receipt of N2 billion from the Federal Government coffers.

“We request that the state government immediately make known its intentions concerning palliatives, as Osun people are longing for support that most citizens of other states have enjoyed.

“We must also use this opportunity to condemn the secrecy that shrouded the distribution of the palliatives that were received from the Federal Government. For transparency’s sake, we encourage the Osun State government to be more open with such distribution processes in the future. Openness secures public confidence and the government cannot do without it.”

Also, the Osun Chairman of the Civil Society Organisations, Comrade Waheed Lawal, said that he rejected one bag of rice brought to him by the government for about 26 groups in the state.

Benue State: Govt yet to begin palliative distribution

The APC government of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, is yet to commence the sharing of palliatives about the time this report was filed.

Governor Alia, while addressing supporters of the party on Monday, September 25, during his tribunal victory celebration, in Makurdi, said that the palliatives would soon be distributed.

While disclosing that the trucks of grains had already arrived in the state, Alia said that they would be distributed to all the 23 local government areas across the state.

He, however, did not state the number of bags of grains received.

On his part, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, (SEMA), Sir James Iorpuu, also assured that the palliatives would be distributed in due time.

Briefing newsmen in his office premises last weekend during the routine distribution of food and non-relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) in Makurdi, the SEMA boss urged the media to inform the public to remain calm as they would be informed when the palliatives are ready.

Iorpuu acknowledged that “there is so much anxiety among the members of the public, and people are thinking we were supposed to distribute the palliatives today. When the time comes, we will inform the media to tell them.

“We are going to have a very transparent system of reaching out to the people. We want the general public to know that there is nothing to hide.”

Speaking to Sunday Sun, the State Commissioner for Humanitarian and Disaster Management, Hon. Aondowase Kunde, said that the state government would flag off the distribution of the palliatives soon.

Kunde, who recalled their experiences during the recent distribution of SEMA relief materials, which was shared through the local government, said: “We had a lot of issues when the thugs attacked our men who were in the field for the distribution, and hijacked the items.”

Recalling what went down at Agatu local government, he said: “They broke into the warehouse forcefully and carted away those most valuable items, and till today we are still looking for them. It also happened in Makurdi,  Kwande, Otukpo LGAs and other places.

“That sent a signal to us that we had to readjust and restrategise. So, we are working with the DSS and the police to flag off the distribution this time.”

He, however, urged Benue people to remain calm, with a promise that very soon they would start giving out the palliatives.

Kunde, who didn’t mention the number of bags of rice or other grains allocated to Benue, explained that “we are receiving them from the vendors; we are taking stock while also looking at how to avoid those problems we came across while distributing the SEMA items.

“This time round, His Excellency has said he would ensure that the palliatives reach to those that really need them. We are going to the grassroots to distribute materials. But I assure you there is no cause for alarm. Any moment from now, we will flag off distribution.”

Kwara State: Residents prefer affordable fuel to palliatives

On the part of the Kwara State government, it  announced various forms of reliefs such as release of N10, 000 each monthly addition to the salary of civil servants in the state pending the resolution of minimum wage matter with organised trade unions.

Other beneficiaries of the largesse are the security agents and students, markets women and other vulnerable residents of the state.

The next in the palliative chain is the distribution of rice to the residents. The state government recently flagged off for the most vulnerable persons with a committee to share at least 250,000, 10kg bags in the first phase.

In what was an attempt to ensure non-partisanship, fairness and equity, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on August 22 inaugurated a 12-man committee to coordinate the distribution of the palliatives purchased with the N2 billion so far received from the Federal Government.

At the flag off of the distribution in Ilorin,  the governor said that the palliatives were only a show of empathy with the people as more sustainable initiatives would be implemented in phases.

“This is only a fraction of what we have done to identify with the people at this very critical moment of our national life. Palliatives are a stop-gap measure to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on the most vulnerable among us.

“Over the last few weeks, our government has rolled out different palliative measures to support the people in the formal and informal sectors.

“We had earlier distributed the five trucks of rice we received from the Federal Government. We acknowledge the limits of this distribution in terms of the reach.

“Today, we are flagging off the distribution of the first consignment of rice we purchased with the N2 billion so far received from the Federal Government. We are distributing at least 250,000, 10kg bags of rice in this phase.

“Beneficiaries will be identified on a non-partisan basis by the committee of eminent Kwarans. This committee has continued to consult with different blocs of our communities as well as evidence-based registers of vulnerable people domiciled with key agencies of government such as the health insurance, primary healthcare agencies, as well as the World Bank. Distribution will be done in accordance with the timetable and logistics of the committee.

“For me, the most important aspect of today’s event is not the quantity or the sheer reach of the grains to be distributed. The most significant thing is the spirit of empathy that is behind what we are doing. The government at all levels empathises with the people across all social strata of our society. We are committed to taking every step possible to help the people cope with the inconveniences of this time.

“Huge investments are being made to boost the manufacturing sector, strengthen local production of food through commercial agriculture, local production of CNG and electric vehicles, and mass employment for young people in different aspects of the economy.

“I urge our people to trust the committee to do justice to the assignment, bearing in mind that the whole essence of this modest effort is to show concern to the plight of the people, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

The event was attended by members of palliative committee and beneficiaries of the first batch, including representatives of Persons Living With Disabilities; WOWICAN, market men and women groups, Hausa community, Igbo community, South-South community; youth councils, NANS; youth CAN, orphanage homes, NUT, NUJ, TUC, FOMWAN, non-indigenes community, NURTW, NLC and artisans groups.

At the flag off the committee, the Chairperson, CP Ebunoluwarotimi Adelesi,  said that the occasion marked the beginning of the exercise, which would see the palliatives being taken to all the 16 local governments after agreeing with the modalities with all the stakeholders and interest groups.

“The committee has the mandate to distribute approximately 250,000 bags of 10kg rice; it advises the government on effective deployment of the N1billion worth of maize from the Maize Reserve (SMR) through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to livestock farmers across the state,” she said.

The committee has since started its assignment by directing the Director of Personnel Management (DPM) of the local government areas to work with Primary Healthcare Development Agency in a bid to generate a list of potential beneficiaries and vulnerable indigenes across the nooks and crannies of the state, she added.

In their separate responses, representative of Persons with Disabilities, Alfred Oluwole; representative of FOMWAN, Hajia Bilqees Oladimeji; representative of WOWICAN, Mrs Kehinde Awe; and the President, Kwara State Artisans Congress, Alhaji Jimoh Adeshina, applauded the government for the initiative aimed at cushioning the effects of fuel subsidy.

Some of beneficiaries also took turns to commend the government for the palliatives.

At the local government level, the committee said that about five per cent of the total palliatives was currently being distributed, while the rest would be taken to the 193 wards in the state for distribution.

Sunday Sun  witnessed no fewer than 22,000 (10kg) bags of rice being distributed on Saturday across three local government areas namely Offa, Oyun and Ekiti.

The occasion marked the fourth day of the exercise.

The distribution of the palliatives was based on the population of each local government area.

According to information obtained from a member of the palliative distribution committee, Mr Stephen Awoyale, Offa local government which has 12 wards has a population of 148,217 persons, received a total of 8,800 bags with 773 bags going to each ward.

But at the ward level some recipients although they thanked the government for the gesture, said that it would have been better if the total fund for the palliatives was channeled to make Nigerian refineries work or building new ones if the existing ones are old.

This, they said, would go a long way towards reducing freighting crude oil overseas and in turn buying it with huge sums of money.

A woman retiree who didn’t want her name in print said: “The government might be trying, but I will say they only want to enrich some people with the palliatives because the materials might not get to people that are to receive it.

“I was given a milk cup of rice. How many mouths can I use this to feed? It was not even enough for one person talk less of two or three.

“Let the government do the needful and stop playing on the people’s intelligence. The government must look at where these problems come from; I will say that NNPC is our albatross in this country; until the government removes corruption in this organisation and the cartel they are paying this subsidy to; only then will this problem be resolved.”

Abia State: Slashed cost of living better than palliatives – Residents

At first, in Abia State, some of the bags of rice were given to members of the state House of Assembly, who then took them to their local governments and down to political wards of the LGA.

The 30,000 bags of rice the state received from the Federal Government were then shared among recognised groups and organisations within the wards.

Each group or organisations got bags of rice according to their numerical strength. For instance, in some places, a group of 10 persons were given two bags of 50kg rice.

When shared, each person in the group got about two four paint buckets of rice, which contained about 38 standard cups.

Although it could not be ascertained how many groups were in a given ward, however, an aide to one of the lawmakers in Umuahia who was involved in the sharing of the bags of rice, said no fewer than 20 groups and organisations had collected the rice, and more would still be given.

Although he did not specify how the groups and organisations were chosen, he assured that the rice would definitely get to those it was meant for.

Checks by Sunday Sun indicated that the aim of the effort probably had been defeated, as it was only an infinitesimal number of the very poor in the state had so far received the rice.

Not even those that received the commodity were singing the praises of the government. They said the excruciating hardship they were passing through occasioned by the removal of oil subsidy had wiped off   whatever succour they could have received from the cups of rice given to them.

Ebem Nwosu, a farmer in one of the suburbs of Umuahia, said: “The other day, I received over 20 cups of rice they said government gave out to cushion the effect of the hardship as a result of the removal of oil subsidy, which by today’s market price should be around N5,000.

“This is all fairness will serve no purpose going by the level of hardship in the country. I don’t even have the money to go to the market to buy the condiments to cook the rice and we are not going to eat it raw.”

Others who spoke were also of the view that the times were extremely so hard that the cups of rice given to them would in no way go near the point of making live better for them.

What they rather want the government to do was to put measures in place that would bring down the prices of goods and services.

They also wanted the government to put more mass-transit vehicles on the road as to force down the high transport cost.

While stressing the need to cut down the cost of governance by slashing down the salaries of political office holders, they at the same time, wanted the government to increase  the workers’ salaries.

Enugu State: Palliative scam, failure, mockery of citizens, some residents got 2 cups of rice

Residents of Enugu State have expressed disappointment over the much talked about Federal Government’s fuel subsidy removal palliative, describing the rice being shared as a mockery of the citizens’ plight.

A greater percentage of the citizens is of the opinion that the palliative was, as usual, politicians’ business and would never benefit the masses, hence their insistence that government should rather than insulting them with the palliative, make fuel available and affordable.

While it was not possible to get the actual number of bags of rice received by the state government, Sunday Sun gathered that each of the 260 political wards in the state was given 200 bags of 25kg.

It was, however, gathered that in Enugu North, the local government chairman withdrew five bags from each of the 13 wards in the council.

From the various wards where the rice was shared, it was the same story of anger, despair and regret because some people got as little as two cups of rice. In some places five families shared a bag of the 25kg while some others about 10 persons shared a bag.

In one of the wards in Obiagu, in Enugu North, a lady who gave her name as Udegbunam Ann said that she had to leave the line in anger when she discovered that it was just two cups of rice that the people were getting.

She said: “I was really angry; I was disappointed; after the whole process of registration, and provision of all details, and after long hours on line people were given two cups of rice. Who does that? In what clime does this happen? Is that what we the citizens worth in the eyes of our political leaders? It is a big shame; the government palliative is a scam.

“You are asking me what I want; what I want is for the cost of transport to come down, cost of food items to come down and you know what that means? Fuel and other petroleum products prices must be available and affordable. That is what I want.”

A widow who was in one of the wards in Coal Camp with her three kids complained bitterly that she came with expectations that she would get what could feed her family for two or three days, but was disappointed to receive eight cups of rice.

She said: “See us! My child and I thought they would give us enough food items and money.

“I heard on the radio that the Federal Government gave all the states N5 billion for this palliative; so what is happening? What they gave to us is like they are mocking us because we are poor.

“I know there is no time government will feed us, but let them make things easy for us. How can a new government that should be doing things to better the life of the citizens be this callous? People are suffering and dying, yet they don’t care. Let them make fuel price come down because it is the high price of fuel that is affecting everything.”

Also relating the minds of the populace to the state government when the Ohanaeze Ndigbo was at the Cathedral Church of Good Shepherd, Enugu, for a thanksgiving service, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, who had earlier rejected the palliative, described it as fraud and a failure, urging the Deputy Governor of the state, Ifeanyi Ossai, who was present at the service, to look into the palliative shared in the state as the chairman of the state committee on palliative.

In response, the deputy governor confirmed that he had received complaints on the issue and promised that they would handle them and ensure that the purpose for which the palliative was put in place was achieved.

Delta State: Residents express mix feelings, some insist palliatives not sustainable

Delta State government has commenced the distribution of the 17,400 bags of rice (50kg) it received from the Federal Government.

A steering committee headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Kingsley Emu, is supervising the process which has been broken down to the local government and ward levels for maximum effect.

From the 17,400 bags of rice, each of the 25 local government areas received 696 bags for onward distribution to the wards by a committee at the council level.

In distributing to the wards, the state elected to use political wards created by the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) apparently because of the uniform number of wards (20 each) across the councils,

In Oshimili South Local Government Area, for instance, each of the 20 wards received 34 bags of rice, according to the coordinator of the palliative-monitoring committee for the council, Mrs Bridget Anyafulu.

At a meeting with the council committee members and ward coordinators in Asaba, Anyafulu handed down the template for the distribution as formulated by the state government, urging the stakeholders to strictly adhere to it.

According to her, the palliatives would further be shared in the ratio of 40 per cent for the ward, 25 per cent for poor and vulnerable households, 20 per cent for widows and PLWD, 10 per cent top up for urban wards and five per cent for contingency reserve.At the end, Anyafulu said one bag of rice was expected to be shared among five beneficiaries at the ward level.

She urged members of the ward committees, including the councilors, community, women and youth leaders, non-indigenes and faith-based organisations, familiar Non-Governmental Organisations, among others, to ensure that the palliatives got to the right persons.

Anyafulu assured all inhabitants of Oshimili South that the rice would be judiciously shared to the target beneficiaries, adding that the process would be transparent enough to avoid any doubt or suspicion.

Meanwhile, some beneficiaries have thanked the government for the gesture, but noted that it was not sustainable. Mr Andrew Ogoegbunem, a father of five, while thanking the government for the one paint rubber of rice he received, stated that the food item would not last more than one week.

Ogoegbunem who was looking frail, urged the government to establish industries where youths could work to earn a living for themselves and sustain their aged parents.

“If there were jobs for our children, I don’t think distributing rice to citizens would be necessary because our children would earn money to buy us food items and other things. However, we are grateful for this gesture,” he said.

Another beneficiary, Mrs Eunice Achebe, also thanked the government, pointing out that feeding her household had become very difficult in view of the ever rising cost of foodstuff and other items in the market.

“We are grateful for the rice. The price of food items these days is out of the reach for the common people, but now that we are getting this painter of rice for free, we are very grateful. We wish that they would also share other food items like yams, beans, tomatoes,” she said.

Like Oliver Twist, the beneficiaries are asking for more, insisting that what they got was grossly inadequate to sustain their households.

Dr Emu told journalists in Asaba that the Governor Sheriff Oborevwori administration had long ago commenced the process of distribution of palliatives by embarking on the payment of N5.522 billion promotion arrears to workers.

“We have also commenced the payment of N10,000 to over 50,196 workers since August and the recruitment of 2,000 primary school teaching and non-teaching staff across the state.

“Governor Oborevwori also approved the commencement of three working days rotational scheme for civil servants on Salary Grade level 1 – 14, while some staff on SGL15 and above, are to work out what is convenient for them in their respective MDAs while ensuring that essential services remain uninterrupted,” he added.

On his part, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sir Festus Ahon, in a statement, said the governor also approved palliatives for fresh students in the state-owned universities with the scrapping of acceptance fees.

Imo State: Residents receive 11 cups of rice, others reject palliative

The Imo State governor , Senator Hope Uzodimma had on Wednesday, August 30, flagged off the distribution of palliatives to the citizens of the state.

At the flagging off ceremony held at the premises of the Imo State Ministry of Digital Economy and E-government, Governor Uzodimma had disclosed that the stste  had received N 2 billion out of the N5 billion promised by the Federal Government.

According to the governor, “We have decided to buy rice with the N2 billion sent to us , which represents ( working by their unit price) N50 ,000 per bag of rice. We have decided to buy the rice from our local markets so that we can patronize our sellers. We want the money to go round, so that there will be a value chain.

“Today, I am flagging off the distribution under phase one, 65,000 bags of rice to all the indigenes and citizens of Imo State and I want you to join me in thanking the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Ahmed BolaTinubu (GCFR) for this gesture of his”.

Uzodimma said that the first phase of the palliatives would see to the distribution of 65,000 bags of rice across the 305 Electoral Wards in Imo State regardless of political party affiliations, trade unions, political appointees, civil/public servants, teachers, religious bodies, security agencies, tertiary institutions, ethnic nationalities  resident in Imo.

However, the Imo State committee on Fuel  Subsidy  Removal Palliatives headed by Chief Cosmos Iwu, Secretary to the Government of Imo State, which is saddled with the implementation of the sharing of the palliatives has earned the wrath of  the people, especially in the rural communities who described the palliatives as ungratitutous insults as  more than 20 persons were given a bag of 50kg rice to share.

That is,  for those communities that  are lucky as Sunday Sun observed that the majority of the communities in the state are yet to receive even a grain of the rice palliative.

However, civil/public servants in the state got a share of at least two and half painter of rice depending on the numbers that had to share a bag of 50kg rice.  Some others even got less.

Mr Okedima Chigozie whose wife works in one of the ministries told Sunday Sun that the wife only got two painter of rice as  her own share of the palliative.

“My wife only got two painter of rice as her own share of the palliative care which is not more than 19 cups of rice. In fact, it didn’t last for a week.”

The entire Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Imo State Chapter got only 20 bags of rice for its members in the state.

A member of the association who spoke on condition of annoymity, disclosed  that members of the association were given a bag each and that some of the churches are yet to collect their bag of rice.

“I am a member of the Prebysterian Church in the state and we have been told by CAN that our church’s share of the palliative care is a bag of 50kg rice from the state government. I don’t know how they want want us to share a bag of rice to the members of the church. It would require a miracle to do so”.

Residents of  Owerri Munpicial Council, which  hosts the state seat of power have been told that those who wish to share from the palliatives must come along with them their voters card.

As a result, many residents have shunned the rice palliative. One of the residents, Mrs  Agatha Nkwopara said: “We were told to come and collect our own share, but we must come with our voter’s card, but many have refused to go and waste their time because of less than 10 cups of rice.”

In Orogwe town in Owerri-West Local Government Area of the state, residents were told to go to their polling units, which has at least 500 persons to share 10 bags of rice per polling booth.

A lot of the residents frowned upon the gesture, saying that it was an insult and mockery of the people.