By Michael Nnebife
Yam seedlings stocked in the warehouse of the Anambra State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, for the Federal Government’s Special National Emergency Livelihood Intervention for Vulnerable People and Victims of the 2022 flood disaster in the state, have started rotting.
It was gathered that in May 2023, the Federal Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, enumerated farmers affected by the 2022 flood and vulnerable people in the state and got 9,084 households of six persons each, through the state SEMA.
Between May and August 2023, the Federal Government was bringing in palliative materials to be given to the enumerated 2022 flood victims and the vulnerable in the state.
The materials comprised sewing machines, grinding machines, water pumping machines, chemical fertilizers, rice, maize, yam seedlings, among others.
Investigation further revealed that before August this year, not less than half of the yam seedlings had been rotten.
While speaking to our reporter, some of the beneficiaries who chose yam, alleged that they were directed by the personnel of the agency to vacate the SEMA premises, for their chosen item was not only unavailable, but also not included in materials being distributed presently.
One of them who identified herself as Chioma, said a brother of hers who also chose yam was given N50, 000 in place of yams, which, she alleged, had rotten, and some food items such as small bags of beans, and garri.
When contacted, the Assistant Director, Planning, Research and Forecasting, NEMA, Afoloyan Olusegun, stated that the distribution of yams with associated chemicals and accessories had been concluded nationwide over the past two months.
Olusegun, who led the NEMA Team, spoke from both sides of the mouth, saying, ‘We found out that it (yams) would be destroyed – it is something you can’t keep for a long time. So they have distributed it.
‘I only came here based on the instructions on what is available. For the yam, I’m not authorized to say anything.
‘All I know is they (NEMA) said they will bring the balance for yams from the headquarters,’ he stated.
On merging three beneficiaries for one item, such as sewing machine, water pumping machine, among others, the NEMA assistant director explained, ‘It’s what’s available in the warehouse that we’re distributing.
‘If the numbers of enumerators (beneficiaries) are more than the numbers of items brought, what do you do? So, the supply demands what we’re going to give,’ he noted.
He however added that yam slips could not be used to collect food item, nor sewing machine, grinding machine, among others, because the enumeration was conducted based on the jobs and the needs of the beneficiaries.
Also, the Executive Secretary, Anambra SEMA, Chief Paul Odenigbo, confirmed that more than half of the yams got rotten in the warehouse.
While speaking to the press, Chief Odenigbo blamed the situation on a failure to promptly distribute the materials when they were needed.
The SEMA boss, who stated that the yam seedlings and other crop items were brought in at the wrong time, appealed to the Federal Government to be time-conscious when initiating and implementing intervention programmes, saying cultivation of every crop such as maize, rice, yam, among others, had a season.