Monday 29 January 2024

Bayelsa keeps mum on palliative diversion probe


The Bayelsa State Government has kept mum on its investigation of the alleged diversion of fuel subsidy removal palliatives during the distribution of food items in the state, about two months after instituting a committee to carry out the task.

There are concerns in some quarters that barely two weeks to the end of Governor Douye Diri’s first tenure in office, nothing had been heard concerning the work of the probe panel.

A Government House statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Daniel Alabrah, had announced the setting up of the committee on November 30, 2023, “with a view to bringing to book culprits who diverted food items.”

It stated that Diri ordered an investigation into the palliatives diversion during the state’s executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, “following complaints that some individuals diverted items meant for each ward in the state.” 

Diri directed the Secretary to the State Government, Gideon Ekeuwei, Coordinator of the state Community Safety Corps, Brig-Gen. Eric Angaye (retd) and the acting Chief of Staff, Government House, Peter Akpe, to work with relevant bodies to identify those culpable.

The government claimed that it had procured more food items in addition to the five trucks of rice allotted to each state by the Federal Government as part of the measures to cushion the effect of the removal of petrol subsidies on people of the state.

Each of the 105 wards, the statement said, was allocated at least 150 bags of rice apart from maize.

Diri said,  “Concerning the palliatives that I directed should be shared, I received reports that some greedy politicians converted some of them to their use.

“I have asked for an immediate investigation and anyone found wanting will face the wrath of the law, particularly those that are appointees. You were asked to share 150 bags of rice; you went with 80 or 100 bags to your people in the wards and villages. You cheat on your people.

“The SSG, the Coordinator of the Community Safety Corps, and the Chief of Staff should investigate through BYSEMA (Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency) those who were in a position to distribute the palliatives to stakeholders in the wards and local government areas.

“Confirm how many bags got to each ward and how they were distributed. We distributed not only rice but also maize. I heard that some were sold. I want to have that report. Work through all the commissioners, members of the House of Assembly, and leaders. All of those involved will be brought to book.

“We must work assiduously not to disappoint our people. God has placed this assignment on our hands. Let us not be greedy. Whatever that should be given to the people, you must make sure it gets to them.”

He also decried the fact that some politicians were selfish in their conduct by withholding the palliatives that were meant for people at the grassroots.

However, about 60 days after the governor’s directive, neither the outcome of the investigation nor the conclusion of the committee’s task had been made public.

When contacted on Monday, the governor’s media aide directed our correspondent to the SSG’s office.

But an Information Officer in the office of the SSG, who identified herself simply as Ine, said, “I can’t give you any information on the report of the committee because I don’t have it, and I’m not privy to it.”

The SSG could not be reached for a reaction even as a member of the committee and acting chief of staff to the governor, Peter Akpe, did not answer a call placed to his phone.

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