Food crisis: Lagos, Ogun, Customs unveil palliatives

A flexible work plan for civil servants, 25 per cent rebate on transport fares and distribution of food to 300,000 households are some of the palliatives announced yesterday for lagosians by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Other measures to cushion the effects of economic hardship announced by the governor included free healthcare missions by the six health districts and removal of the N8,000 Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) for enrolment in public schools.

To ensure these measures achieve their intended objective, Sanwo-Olu said a bipartisan advisory team will be instituted to monitor the process, ensure transparency and give feedbacks to the government.

He said: “This team will include myself, the deputy governor, State Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Chairman of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), representative of the civil society, representative of the House of Assembly, religious leaders (one Christian, one Muslim), economists and others.”

The governor, during a live media chat, ‘Sanwo Speaks’, said ‘the measures are to ensure that everyone is touched and can then say the government is truly working for me’.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, civil servants from Level 1-14 will begin to work three days a week while those from level 14 upwards will work four days a week. Also, teachers will work for five days due to the nature of the sector. He, however, said that government will ensure additional transport support.

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The governor announced a 25 per cent rebate on fares on government-owned transport schemes, including BRT, ferry services and rail. He also disclosed that discussions were on with the private transport sector to see how they can also key into the initiative.

The governor will also collaborate with the local governments to rehabilitate dilapidated inner roads and procure more vehicles for security agencies.

On food palliatives, Sanwo-Olu said the government would explore three major avenues to ensure Lagosians get affordable foodstuff. He said the government is expecting 100 trailer loads of rice from the North for distribution.

He said: “We will be having food purchase and redistribution to cover about 300,000 households. Each household will get a box containing staples and some condiments. Procurement has started and we will work out distribution logistics.

“We will also have soup kitchens where identified caterers (mama put) will be employed across local government areas to feed about 1,500 people once daily. Beneficiaries will get vouchers to be able to access the kitchens. We have the caterers already and funds will be disbursed soon.

“Another thing is we will be having Sunday markets in 42 identified markets where people can buy cheaply and get 25 per cent discount immediately. Purchase will however be limited to N25,000 to ensure that those who really need it benefit from the initiative. This will happen for the next four to five Sundays, after which it will be reviewed to determine continuity.”

In the health sector, Sanwo-Olu announced that the 31 general hospitals will offer free delivery (normal and caesarian section), and a rebate on certain medications, especially hypertension and diabetes. He also said the six health districts will be holding free health missions twice a week for the next three months.

To reduce the number of out-of-school children, the governor said he has removed the compulsory N8,000 Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) parents have to present before registering their wards. Sanwo-Olu stressed: “We realised that asking parents to present that was a big challenge so we have decided to remove it for now so that they can bring their wards back to school.”

Sanwo-Olu also urged the people to be hopeful for brighter days. He said protests cannot solve challenges, adding that ‘government has what it takes and is committed to helping the people’.

He added: “It is for us to know that there are difficult times and there will be glorious days, but we need to be strong and work together, showing shared resilience and unity.

“This is not the time to be adamant on profitability, but focus on keeping life alive. It should not be about shareholder value, but about giving back to ourselves.

“We must help ourselves to stay alive before talking of profitability. It is the ability to weather the storms in the hard times that defines mankind and humanity.”

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