Yet, Another Dismal Distribution Of NDDC Rice In Cross River
For the year 2021, it is quite unfortunate to admit that the distribution of the NDDC annual rice palliative across the three senatorial districts of Cross River was fraught with lampoonable lacuna.
The rice palliative programme pegged at N30 million for Cross River with N10 million for each of the 3 senatorial districts and which was supposed to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on Nigerian youth, women and the disabled reportedly turned out to be a gross disappointment both to the objective of the programme and the people it was supposed to serve.
For the Cross River South, Rt. Hon. Orok Duke who is the state co-supervisor was responsible for the disbursement; while Cletus Obun the second co-supervisor was to oversee the distribution of the rice to Cross River North and Cross River Central. While distribution in the central and north was relatively hitch-free and decorous, the south has been inundated by allegations of corruption and thievery. Again, the distribution especially in the south was not done in line with NDDC Guidelines which clearly stipulated category of beneficiaries. The supervisor is alleged to have given rice to very limited number of random persons at his home creating the impression that it was a personal act of benevolence.
Importantly, it should be stressed that while the distribution of the NDDC rice palliative was not without irregularities under the sole supervision of Duke, the reason why the supervision was splitted between the latter and Obun, Cross River South’s distribution under Duke’s supervision would still be characterised by irreconcilable irregularities; but, the exercise was hitch free in the central and north. Quite instructive.
But, while reacting to the allegation in the penultimate paragraph, Duke had claimed to a fierce critic of the implementation of the programme in the state, Mr Agba Jalingo, that he was not unaware of any guidelines, from the office of the Director Youth and Sport manned by one Mr Offiong O. Ephraim, before his distribution.
On the website of the NDDC, the mission of the federal agency is stated as follows: ‘To offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta Region and to facilitate the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.’ Distributing rice is not a sustainable development initiative. It was just an attempt to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on Nigerians.
Nevertheless, the vox pop in Cross River suggests that the programme is well received and commendable but, needs improvement in distribution as well as increment in amount and reach to include the aged and unemployed etc while not failing to consider setting up a committee of technocrats who will supervise subsequent distributions. It is on this note that the people greatly commended the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari; minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio; and the interim administrator, Effiong Akwa; for the programme which could go a long way in ameliorating the suffering of a cross section of people in the south south of Nigeria.