NIGERIA – The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has announced that it has commenced plans to distribute 180 trucks of rice to various states as part of steps to ease the pain of rising food prices.

The announcement follows the release of an N5bn (US$6.5M) palliative at the conclusion of the 135th National Economic Council meeting, which was presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima in Abuja.

During the meeting, it was recommended that the N5bn would enable the state governments to purchase 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers to lessen the impact of food shortages across the nation.

Concerns about food insecurity have been longstanding in Nigeria but worsened after President Tinubu’s move to remove the fuel subsidy, which had been in place for decades, and kept the price of petroleum products low.

According to sources, the removal has led to increases of up to 200% in the prices of petroleum which consequently has led to an escalation of prices of foodstuff. This prompted President Bola Tinubu to declare a state of emergency to ensure sustainable food security.

The president, therefore, developed raft initiatives including using money saved by the recent removal of a fuel subsidy to provide fertilizer and grain to farmers in a bid to tackle rising food prices and shortages.

The palliative is among the ways that the National Economic Council is devising to bring down the price of food items across the country.

When contacted regarding the state of the distribution of trucks of rice, however, Ezekiel Manzo, the spokesperson for NEMA assured that the activity is ready, adding that the agency is waiting for a formal communication before executing.

I’m not saying that lifting has not started, “What I’m saying is that the directive was given on Thursday and arrangements are being made appropriately to carry out the directive.

“And you know that these arrangements would also mean that NEMA will be communicated formally. But for us in NEMA we are prepared to carry out the directive.

Earlier, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State while briefing journalists on the outcome of the NEC meeting disclosed that NEC had established a robust agreement that states and local governments would be involved in the distribution of the grains.

He said that NEMA would collaborate with the corresponding institutions in the states and local governments so that the grains would be distributed with ease.

Further, he explained that states are at liberty to give out the grains at subsidized rates, or free of charge, or sell it in such a way that it would crash the prices of food items and make them affordable for the common people.

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