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Nigeria receives 3.399MT of cereals as COVID-19 intervention from ECOWAS

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THE Federal Government on Sunday confirmed receipt of a 3.399 Metric Tons of cereals as COVID-19 pandemic support from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission.

Mustapha Shehuri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Zubariu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Sadiya Umar Farouk, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development received the donations on behalf of the Nigerian government.

The humanitarian assistance is targeted at the most vulnerable groups who are most affected by the pandemic in Nigeria.

“Nigeria has taken notice of this kind gesture by ECOWAS,” Shehuri said at the handing over ceremony held at the Grain Depot, Hotoro, Kano State.

“Rest assured that the 3,999 MT of cereals will be distributed to vulnerable populations affected by the negative impact of COVID-19, terrorism, inter-community conflicts and drought.”

Prior to the donation, the Federal Government had launched COVID-19 support programmes for farmers across some states in the country.

The initiative which commenced on July 23, in Katsina State was part of recommendations of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo.

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On August 6, the support was offered to farmers in Calabar, Cross River State. About a week after, Imo State farmers also benefitted from the scheme.

The Minister further explained how Heads of Government of ECOWAS member states agreed to set up Regional Food Security Reserve (RFSR) Programme to address food crisis in the West African Sub-region especially the Sahel.

A contractual agreement between ECOWAS and the Ministry’s Department of Food and Strategic Reserve was previously signed on July 7, 2017.

The pact includes storing of substantial food quantity in the grains reserve in possible cases of food emergencies and to boost food security within the region.

Shehuri said the country also loaned 5,000MT of grains from ECOWAS stock which was agreed to be paid back on grain for grain basis.

While applauding the kind gesture, he said modalities were already in place to replace the ECOWAS stock before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That notwithstanding, I can assure you that the stock will be replaced in due course,” he noted.

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In her remarks, Farouk assured that the food supports would reach the most vulnerable in society.

She said it would help reduce the risk of food insecurity.

On his part, Zubariu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also commended the ECOWAS Commission for its programme towards reducing COVID-19 impact in the region. He restated the commitment of the Nigerian Government towards the ECOWAS Commission.

Sangare Sekou, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources & Environment, in his remarks, said the humanitarian action aligned with the management rules adopted by the member states to consider nations with larger populations due to their vulnerability to food insecurity.

He said donations were directed to the most vulnerable populations living in Burkina Faso, the Republic of Niger, Mali and Nigeria, mostly in the North region.

Sekou, however, praised the European Union, French Development Agency among other donor agencies for the assistance.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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