By Jerry Daks

The Federal Government has approved a grant of N185 billion to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for purchase of 100,000 bags of rice and other grains to be distributed as palliatives.

Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday after the monthly meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Shettima Kashim at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Also at the media briefing were Governors Uba Sani (Kaduna), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Charles Soludo (Anambra) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).

The governor also announced that five trucks of rice had earlier been made available to each of the 36 states and the FCT last week for the same purpose.

According to Zulum, the provisions are part of interventions by the Tinubu-led administration to cushion the biting effects of fuel subsidy removal and the increasing rice in food prices.

He noted that each of the 36 states and the FCT would get N5 billion part of which they are expected to pay back to the Federal Government.

He further explained that 48 percent of the N5 billion grant would be paid back to the CBN by the states within 20 months, while the balance of 52 percent would be borne by the Federal Government.

Zulum also said that the Federal Government $800m World Bank loan secured by the former Muhammadu Buhari administration and such other monies would be made available to Nigerians in accordance with the purpose for which they’re meant.

He said: “NEC met today and expressed serious concerns as regards increasing cost of food items, increasing cost of transportation amongst others as a result of subsidy removal. In order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, the federal government has released five trucks of rice to each state last week. Furthermore, in order to cushion the effect of food shortages across the country, the federal government has approved the sum of N5billion to be given to each state for the procurement of 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilizers. This funding has to be shared with a formula as follows: 52% of this money is given to states as grants, while 48% of the N5billon is to be paid back on an instalment basis within a period of 20months to the CBN by the states and the local governments areas in Nigeria.

“The Council commended the efforts of the federal government under the leadership of President Tinubu as well as the CBN. We have also commended the efforts of NEMA in cushioning the effects of the subsidy removal.

“Council has taken bold decisions in order to ensure speedy release of grains and other items in order to cushion the effects of subsidy removal on the less privileged in the society.

“Council has also taken note of the $800 million loan and insist that it be strictly used for intended purpose and based on accurate and acceptable register. The $800million announced by the president will go to Nigerians in accordance with an accurate social register.

“Furthermore, Council has also noted the package that was announced by the president in order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, amounting to about N500billion. This fund has to be distributed to the following sectors MSMEs, industrial sector, about N125billion will go to cash transfers, agricultural sector as well as gas expansion for buses. Because of the increasing cost of fossil fuel, the federal government intends to establish more gas stations in Nigeria, procure more gas powered buses, CNG buses, as well as electric buses in order to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.”

The Borno governor equally disclosed that approval had been given to NEMA to commence distrbution of food items in the seven states bordering Niger Republic in order to cater for the huge number of refugees flocking into Nigeria.

Zulum said NEC had urged the states to dail9gue with the organised labour to make them see reasons why the measures so far undertaken by the government should be endured.

He disclosed that NEC had resolved to undertake long and short term measures that ensure food availability and sustainability.

“Furthermore, NEMA will also liaise with states in order to distribute foodstuffs to the people immediately, especially those affected in the frontline states that are bordering Niger Republic because of influx of refugees.

“The Council has also tasked the states to dialogue with the labour unions leadership. A committee made up of Anambra State governor, NGF Chairman and others have been nominated to interface with labour.

“The most important thing that the Council has taken note of is that all these palliatives that are being mentioned now are temporary solutions.

“Council has decided to invest in medium and longer term sustainable solutions that will ensure availability of food and non food solutions in Nigeria, especially investing in commercial agriculture and also investing in irrigated agriculture.

“NEC is calling on Nigerians and labour to be calm, law abiding s the president is determined to address the issues at hand.”

NEC also adopted a resolution for the state and federal governments to step up efforts to contain the issues of flooding in the country.

Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello who read the resolutions of NEC in that regard said:

“NEC Secretariat and officials of the Office of the Vice President to visit the affected states for on-the-spot assessment of the situation on ground. The exercise will authenticate the date submitted by state to determine needed intervention.

“That Federal Government’s immediate intervention to be expeditiously carried out by NEMA, Ecological Fund Office and other relevant agencies. States to assure maximum cooperaton.
NEC resolves that all hands should be on deck to assure appropriate submission and data presentation. The quality of data collected should be enhanced to meet international standard. That the challenges of flooding deserves concerted and collective effort.

“There is need to strengthen NEMA as a structure and sustainable adaptation measures for the citizens. In mobilizing resources to tem the tide of flooding, there is need to look beyond NEMA.

“NEC Secretariat to come up with recommedations on the roadmap towards addressing the flood situtation.”

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