In line with the measures put up by his administration under the Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER), to mitigate the hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, the Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, has kicked off the food relief component of SAfER.
The governor, who kicked off the distribution of the food relief packages at the Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III Mini-stadium, Oyo, said 200,000 households would benefit from the food relief support, adding that the government took its time to plan SAfER, which according to him is more than just a palliative.
He equally appreciated the residents of Oyo zone for standing by him during the March 18 governorship election, noting that the high margin of victory he recorded in the same was quite commendable.
As the governor kicked off the event in Oyo, the deputy governor of the state, Barrister Bayo Lawal, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Olanike Adeyemo and the Chief of Staff to the governor, kick-started the distribution of the food relief packages in Saki, Iseyin and Ogbomoso.
For the Ibadan Less City, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Abiodun Fadeyi, kicked off the distribution of the food packages, while the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun and his counterpart in the Trade, Industry, Investment and Cooperatives Ministry, Honourable Ademola Ojo, kicked off the scheme for Ibadan Main City and Ibarapa zone, respectively.
According to Governor Makinde, the food relief packages are meant for the poorest of the poor in order to mitigate the effect of the economic hardship on them, stating that each package contained bag of 10kg rice, 5kg bag of beans, 5kg bag of yam flour and 1kg bottle of vegetable oil.
The governor added that the government is aware that all segments of the society have been affected by the subsidy removal, hence the design of different components of SAfER, which according to him, has taken into consideration other segments of the society.
He said: “What came to my mind as we flag off the food relief component of our SAfER programme is the song we were used to singing during the electioneering period. ‘Oro wa o gba ejo wewe, ki a sa maa dupe lo’to.’
“That is why while everyone is talking about palliatives, here in Oyo State, we are talking about Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER). So, when they ask you if palliatives have been distributed in Oyo State, tell them the state is not going the way of palliative but SAfER.
“So, we are here to deliver your SAfER package. What palliative means is to treat the symptoms and leave the main cause. In Oyo State, we don’t want to treat the symptoms but attack the roots. One thing about Sustainable Action is that it takes proper planning and strategy.
“Some people have been going round on the radio and social media asking about the 3,000 bags of rice the Federal Government gave to Oyo State. Others are saying that the Federal Government gave them N5bn and the money has been diverted. Some even said there is trust deficit between the government and the people but it is not like that here in Oyo State. Here, we run an open government and we tell the people exactly the way things are.
“We were one of the first states to acknowledge that the Federal Government gave us rice. I acknowledged that the Federal Government gave us 3,000 bags of rice in my official Newsletter, dated 10th of August.
“Last week, they gave us another 3,000 bags but we planned to distribute the food relief package to 200,000 households. If we are to share the 3,000 bags the Federal Government gave to us in 200,000 places, I doubt if a cup of rice will get to any household in the state.
“If we had rushed out to make naysayers happy, they would still be the first to rush to social media to put up different videos on how small the package is. So, we took our time to plan because, both in the short and long term, we are thinking about securing our economy. We bought an additional 37,000 bags of rice to add to the 3,000 bags from the Federal Government to make a total of 40,000 bags of rice.
“That is why each of the 200,000 poorest households will be getting 10kg of rice. We did not stop there as we also procured 5kg of beans, 5kg of garri, 5kg of yam flour and one bottle of vegetable oil.
“One thing I want you to understand about what we are distributing is the fact that we are distributing what we produce locally, apart from the rice. So, we are supporting our local farmers. All the items we are distributing in Oyo were procured here in Oyo. Whatever we want to distribute in each zone would be procured in the zones.”
The governor equally stated that another component of SAfER, the distribution of farm inputs to about 10,000 farmers had been kick-started earlier, saying: “As we distribute the 10,000 inputs to our farmers, we expect bountiful harvests in coming months.”
Other measures in the SAfER scheme include low interest loan to artisans, micro and small businesses, Enterprise Support to youths under the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP), provision of transportation subsidy, free healthcare to 50,000 pensioners and 100,000 households for period of a year under the Oyo State Health Insurance scheme.
The governor also clarified that the N5 Billion facility received from the Federal Government had not yet been put to use, saying though only N2 Billion had been disbursed to the state so far.
He promised to announce to the people how the facility would be used at the opportune time.
“Let me also use this opportunity to restate that we have not yet started using the Federal Government’s N5 Billion facility, which comprises N2.08 Billion grant, N1.92 Billion loan to be paid back after a three-month moratorium in N120 million monthly installments and N1 Billion worth of grains from the national grain reserve.
“We will communicate to the good people of Oyo State how we will be using this fund. So far, the FG has disbursed N2 Billion,” he said.
Earlier in her welcome address, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Senator Monsurat Summonu, appreciated the governor for his kind gesture and for extending the needed dividends of democracy to the people of Oyo zone.
Members of the traditional council, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), commissioners and other political office holders from Oyo Federal Constituency were also in attendance.