“…I didn’t receive a dime -Lawmaker

*House Of Reps leadership speaks

Two senators from Akwa Ibom State have denied receiving food items from the federal government for onward distribution to their constituents. An online publication, Newsindicator, has stated that each senator had received ‘’palliative items worth N200 million, while each member of the House of Representatives got N100 million worth of food items from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture’’. The publication went further to state that Mr. Dada Olusegun, a presidential aide, had confirmed that President Bola Tinubu had directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to make the items available to the National Assembly members.

But the senators from Akwa Ibom have flatly denied receiving such items from the federal government. ‘’I haven’t received any palliative or a dime’’, Senator Bassey told me, adding, ‘’I raised a facility from Access Bank to buy rice and celebrate with my people. it is verifiable from the bank and I can equally submit myself to any form of investigation’’. Bassey represents by senatorial district in the senate.

Senator Ekong Sampson, who represents Akwa Ibom South, is also denying the story. ‘’It is not true, my brother’’, he told me curtly when I contacted him this evening. When pressed further, he asked me to make further inquiries from the Office of the Senate President. But Mr. Eseme Eyibo, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Strategic Communications, did not respond to messages I sent to him on this.

This story is creating considerable excitement among some people given the surge of online videos showing some persons affirming receipts of food items from President Tinubu. I have seen a video of Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State announcing that the President had sent truckloads of rice to Imo citizens for Christmas celebrations. ‘’This rice is a personal gift from Mr. President to Imo people. It is not from the federal government’’, Gov. Uzodinma said, emphasizing that the gesture is borne out of the President’s love for Christians. Akwa Ibom State government has not announced receiving such items from the President. There is also another video of a man whose name was not given but who is said to be a member of the House of Representatives from Edo State, showing off bags of rice purportedly sent to him by President Tinubu for onward distribution to his constituents. I have not independently verified the authenticity of the video.

READ:  President Of The 10Th Senate Is A Listening And Selfless Leader - Sen Yari

There is also another reason why the online story appeared believable. Given the huge quantities of rice distributed by some politicians to their constituents this season, the story has gained traction among Akwa Ibom people on many online platforms. Even before the story broke this evening, I had called Senator Sampson to commend him for celebrating with his people. Reports said that he gave out 50 bags of rice to each of the 12 LGAs in his district, in addition to a gift of cash. Senator Aniekan Bassey had also extended similar gestures to his people in the nine LGAs in his district. I have also seen photographs of Mr. Mark Esset, who represents me in the House of Representatives, sharing bags of rice to his people during the Yuletide. Impressed by these stories, I called Senator Sampson yesterday to laud him and his colleagues for their kindness. He however declined to give the costs of the items. ‘’I don’t think it is necessary for me to announce that; it may detract from the spirit of the gesture’’, he said.

READ:  Details of President Tinubu's Executive Order on Oil, Gas

Could it be possible that these food items were only sent to APC states?

©Etim Etim

Meanwhile, the leadership of the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives has issued a statement clarifying on issues generated by the trending video.

Read the statement below:

ABUJA FCT | THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2024 – PALLIATIVES BY FEDERAL MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY

The House of Representatives is monitoring a trending topic on social media, relating to the distribution of palliatives by Honourable Members, and in line with our Legislative Agenda which promises responsive, timely, and accurate information, the People’s House considers it necessary to respond to Nigerians to clarify issues.

The pro-people position of the Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen Phd – led House of Representatives, on the need for the Federal Government to expedite palliative measures to support vulnerable Nigerians, is well documented. This is on account of the hardship Nigerians are experiencing following the removal of fuel subsidy last year.

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.

READ:  Breaking! 10th NASS: President Tinubu meets National Assembly Leadership ahead of inauguration

The procurement process is at different stages depending on the constituency, but to be clear, no legislator has, nor will be given any money for palliatives. While, as politicians, Honourable Members may be visible during the process of distribution, and rightfully take the credit for bringing succour to the people, the procurement and distribution of the palliatives is being handled by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

As it is customary during this season, Honourable Members, in their respective constituencies, celebrate with their constituents in various ways, in individual capacities. These gestures should not be misconstrued as palliatives, and Honourable Members will continue to engage at the grassroots to clarify these issues in order not to cause disaffection for colleagues in other constituencies.

We remain committed to ensuring diligent oversight in the implementation of the 2024 Appropriation Act – Budget of Renewed Hope – which holds the promise of bringing sustainable positive impact on the lives of Nigerians, so that they can legitimately fend for themselves in dignity, and also ensure no vulnerable person is left behind.

The 10th Assembly of the Federal House of Representatives is the People’s House, and we will continue to engage and work to earn the trust of Nigerians as your elected representatives.

Rep. Akin Rotimi, Jr.
Spokesman /
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity

Thursday, January 4, 2024