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DO NOT SHARE FREE FOOD, SELL AT AFFORDABLE PRICE...... Expert Advise FG On Food Palliatives Grant To States.

"The government must not miss the opportunity to regain the trust, confidence and support of Nigerians who have been so battered and frustrated in the past by corruption and bad leadership." Otunba Diya.

There is a feeling of excitement in the air following the Federal Government's approval of 5Biilion naira to each State of the Federation for the purchase of food palliatives to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.

The announcement which was made after the National Executive Council NEC meeting of Thursday August 16th at the Presidential Villa Abuja, is meant to purchase 100,000 Bags of Rice by each States, with 52% of the Fund being grants from the Federal Government and 48% as loan to be repaid in a period of two (2) years.

This announcement has received mixed reactions from nigerians and analysts. 

Whilst some expressed firm belief that the grant is a right step in the right direction, others are worried about the sincerity and prudence of the State Governors to evenly distribute such palliatives and for the judicious utilization of such funds, especially considering the shams in the previous administration with its 'Food Palliatives Distribution'.

My take however on this development is for the federal government to provide a sustainable and long term palliative measures, rather than distributing free food that will not last long.

This strategy can be achieved through a simple method which has been applied in other developed and advanced countries. It is called "Food Subsidy."

By this concept, the Federal and State Governments are to fashion out ways to subsidize food items and regulate the price in the retail market.

For instance, the government can purchase this food items directly from the Farmers or importers, then provide food storage wearhouses (which will be manned by a Joint Military/Civilian Taskforce), from where wholesalers and retailers can purchase and then supply end users. With this, government can regulate the food prices and still have return on the value chain.

Many May Also Ask The Question, Why Not Free Palliatives?

The concept of sharing free food or food items is not sustainable for a country of over 170million people. As such, this may end up like the previous administration's mismanaged the resources meant for palliatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some analysts have also expressed fear that many of these palliatives may end up in the hands of the loyalists of the governors and ruling parties of the various states, thereby leaving the opposition members to their fate.

Presently, a bag of rice sells between thirty five thousand naira (#35,000) to fifty thousand naira (#50,000) depending on the quality.

As such, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture can meet with Rice dealers and agree on specific amount that will be affordable for consumers (Nigerians).

The same method can also be applied to Garri, Beans, Corn and other raw food items.

How Do We Checkmate Corruption

Recently, I came up with a simple model for the distribution of palliatives using the 774 Local Government Areas and their Wards/Units which is spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Each Local Government can provide six (6) or more representatives that will serve as supervisors, whilst each ward provides 1 or 2 Unit Representative. So, representatives can work directly with the state governments in the area of supervision, monitoring and feedbacks.

Method Of Payment

To ensure easy and seamless purchase, government can have designated account numbers in designated Banks where interested individuals can pay directly to the bank and use their Bank teller to get the items they paid for.

For those in the rural areas, the Bank can also work with Mobile Network Service Providers like MTN, Glo, Airtel, Etisalat etc, to pay via their mobile phones through a simple method of dialing a code for payment and then generate the Receipt of Payment or Teller.

If It works In Other Countries, It Can Work Here

Nigeria, being the giant of Africa, has all it takes to guarantee better life for its citizens. However, the lack of political will and the right attitude has over the years hampered the development of its people.

Whilst the federal government is making effort to ease the sufferings of the people as a result of the subsidy removal, I also suggest that representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development should embark on a tour to selected advanced nations/countries to understudy and compare notes for better strategies that will assist the government in its poverty alleviation drive.

The vulnerable, Aged and Physically Challenged

Through a social welfare scheme, the Federal Government through the Ministries Of Humanitarian Affairs, Women Affairs, Agriculture, the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, State and Local Governments should come up with a list (Data Record) of the Most Vulnerable in the Society, especially those who cannot fend for themselves. Such data can help to cater for their needs; Needs such as Food, Clothing, Shelter and Healthcare.

Implementation Team:

I am optimistic that, with the appointment of Ministers (the New NEC Members), the various sectors of the nigerian economy will begin to wear a new look. However, the government must not miss the opportunity to regain the trust, confidence and support of Nigerians who have been so battered and frustrated in the past by corruption and bad leadership. 

The National Orientation Agency should also be on top of its game with appropriate sensitization and Orientation on the various policies and efforts of the government to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.

Doyin Diya is a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst with years of experience in the Public and Private Sectors.

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