The Nigerian government on Thursday started a Grain Distribution Programme it says will provide food to 1.8 million persons affected by insurgency in the North East region.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo flagged off the first phase of the programme that would be carried out on behalf of the Federal Government by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in partnership with State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and International Humanitarian Agencies.

professor Osinbajo flagged off the first phase in Maiduguri, Borno State where he visited hours after a major attack by Boko Haram, the worst in months, on a community in the state.

A statement by the presidency said 30,000 metric tonnes comprising Rice, Maize, Sorghum and Soya Beans, grown locally by Nigerian farmers and purchased from Nigerian companies would be available.

The food would be bought by the Federal Government from local farmers and suppliers.

“The grains will be sourced from Ibadan, Funtua, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and will be conveyed mainly by road to IDPs (in camps and host communities) in Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe, Bauchi and Gombe.

“A total of 1,032 trucks were involved in the first phase of the Distribution, which will be flagged off by Acting President on Thursday June 8, 2017, in Maiduguri, Borno State,” the statement read.

The 30,000 metric tonnes was arrived at based on computation provided to the government by NEMA which translates to giving each household 50kg of grain a month.

Door-to-door Distribution

Internally displaced persons at different camps have accused government officials of diverting grains earlier given to their camps, but the government says it has a strategy to check such activities.

“The Nigeria Police Force and Armed Forces (Joint Task Force — Army, Navy and Air Force) will provide security and logistical support.

“Each convoy of 10 trucks will be accompanied by two police escorts, travelling between cities. For locations that are difficult to reach, the Nigeria Air Force will airlift the food.

The Presidency also explained how the food would reach the IDPs.

“The Programme will use a voucher-based system to ensure that the food is distributed door-to-door, guaranteeing orderliness and Transparency, instead of having the beneficiaries queue in long and unwieldy lines.

The government believes the voucher system will ensure that all the food gets to intended beneficiaries, and that all those who receive assistance are accounted for.

On its part, NEMA assured the displaced persons that it would put all necessary measures in place to ensure transparent and equitable distribution of the grain.

“Each household beneficiary would be issued with a voucher, which will be redeemed at the receipt of the household allocation of the food basket,” NEMA said.