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‘Poor people don’t eat eggs,’ Nigerian governor rejects inclusion of eggs in subsidised food items

Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State has rejected an appeal to include “eggs” among the food items that the state government will sell to vulnerable people at a subsidised rate, Premium Times reports.

The governor turned down the appeal on Thursday during an enlarged State Executive Council meeting, where he signed into law the bill establishing the Bulk Purchase Agency.

Nigerians are facing severe hardship as prices of food items have skyrocketed following the removal of petrol subsidy by President Bola Tinubu.

In response to the ballooned prices of commodities, Governor Eno, weeks ago, forwarded to the state assembly, a bill for the establishment of a Bulk Purchase Agency, which will buy food items in bulk and sell to the vulnerable people at a subsidised rate.

According to the law, the agency has three staple food items – rice, beans and garri on its menu. The items are to be sold at 10kg each, and once a month to the vulnerable people already enrolled in the state social register.

One attendee at the ceremony, which was live-streamed on Facebook, queried the modalities employed in selecting the three food items, arguing that garri and rice are carbohydrates while beans is the only protein on the list.

He suggested the inclusion of eggs, another protein source, particularly for the malnourished children in the society, but the governor dismissed the appeal.

“Poor people don’t eat eggs. Let’s look at staple foods,” the governor responded, while emphasising that the programme, being an intervention, will not last forever.

“We all know that there is real hunger in the land. Our people need food, so as a government, we proposed that we intervene in the high cost of food in our state.

“The only way we can do that is to set up an agency that will do a direct intervention in the market and get food to our people at a reduced price – that is what the agency seeks to address,” he said.

Criteria, vouchers for beneficiaries
Closely followed by the bill signing ceremony was a presentation by Frank Ekpenyong, an aide to the governor on ICT, and a representative of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company PLC, a company that handles voucher printing.

Giving details of the scheme, Mr Ekpenyong said the state government selected the accredited market agents that will sell the staple food items to the beneficiaries, who are to pay 70 per cent while the government subsidises 30 per cent, including a provision of five per cent as service charge (interest) to the market agents.

The agency will provide vouchers to qualify individuals enabling them to buy staple foods through accredited market agents, the governor’s aide said.

“The people will take the vouchers to the accredited agents and get garri, beans and rice once a month – not more than 10kg of each of these items.

“The agents will take the vouchers to the government and claim their money with 5 per cent interest as a service charge,” Mr Ekpenyong added.