Northern Nigerian Breaking News

How Federal Lawmakers allegedly distribute rice meant for constituents to party loyalists in Ondo – Report

By Alaba Adeyemi

In December 2023, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture announced the release of food and other palliatives worth N100 million to each of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. This was part of the multiple steps by the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of the removal of fuel subsidies.

In January 2024, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives Hon. Akin Rotimi confirmed that they got food items from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. He clarified that they did not get cash but food items.

He explained, “Our leadership successfully lobbied for additional palliatives for our constituents across the country, which is being handled by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, in line with extant Public Procurement Laws. The procurement process is at different stages depending on the constituency, but to be clear, no legislator received any cash.”

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DNN closely monitored how the food items were distributed around December 2023 and January 2024 by two members of the House Of Representatives in Ondo State. Ondo has nine House of Representatives members, DNN investigation reveals that party faithful(s) allegedly benefited the most from this initiative intended for all Nigerians.

Irele/Okitipupa Federal Constituency

Irele/Okitipupa Federal Constituency is located in the Southern Senatorial District of Ondo State and comprises Irele and Okitipupa Local Government Areas; Irele has 10 political wards while Okitipupa has 13, and is represented by Hon. Jimi Odimayo.

DNN investigation showed that Hon. Jimi allegedly converted the palliatives to his campaign largesse. He was aspiring for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship ticket. There were also complaints that the rice he shared was spoiled.

The distribution of the rice was done by leaders of his gubernatorial campaign committee across this state. In Akure South the distribution was handled by one Olukay, who is a former secretary of the APC in Akure South, in Akure North one Oluwole Fanibuyan was reported to have headed the distribution.

The action left some of his constituents wondering if their lawmaker was using materials meant for two local governments, comprising 23 electoral wards, which he is currently representing in the House Of Representatives to promote his gubernatorial ambition.

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A resident of the constituency who spoke in a viral video described the Rice as poisonous. The angry constituent said “Take a look at the cooked one and the uncooked one; both are obviously injurious for consumption. You can imagine someone who wants to be governor has the courage to share this kind of rice with people. Nobody, including young and old, can eat it.

It is not good at all. I have never seen this kind of rice before. The rice has about two to three colors. Can’t you see how it looks? This is really serious.”

Akure South And Akure North Federal Constituency

Akure South And Akure North is the seat of power in Ondo State. Akure South has 11 electoral wards while Akure North has 12. The constituency is represented by Hon. Aderin Adesida.

There is no evidence that palliatives, specifically food items, were distributed by this member in the constituency; dozens of people interviewed denied receiving palliative from him.

However, a stalwart of the APC in Akure South who spoke on a condition of anonymity explained why the majority of the constituents did not get palliative from Hon. Aderin. “Oga (Hon. Aderin Adesida) is still annoyed about the state of the party in the state and how members of the House of Representatives from Ondo State have been sidelined.

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“He reached out to some people, some members of the party but not openly. He did not share any palliatives with the general public.”

In his response to the allegation that he diverted the bags of rice to his campaign gifts to his party loyalists and they were spoiled, Hon. Jimi Odimayo described the claim as untrue. He did not admit to receiving any rice from the Federal Government as a fuel subsidy palliative.

“As part of my annual tradition of giving back to my people, I allocated thirty-four million, six-hundred thousand naira (N34,600,000) to Goldstar rice, a locally produced brand by Millcrest Agro-Allied Industries LTD. Out of the total rice purchased, five hundred bags were repackaged into 10kg portions and distributed across the 18 local governments to my supporters, with additional allocations to other leaders.

“It is important to note that there have been no complaints regarding dangerous rice, except for reports from an undisclosed village in Okitipupa local government. I want to emphasize that there have been no recorded casualties due to the consumption of this rice, despite false claims labeling it as dangerous.”

Calls and text messages sent to Hon. Aderin Adesida, the member representing Akure South and Akure North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives were not responded to.

This report was produced with support from Civic Media Lab.

This report was first published by DNN.


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