Wednesday, October 4, 2023

We distributed NAFDAC-certified rice, minister insists

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq,   on Wednesday insisted that the rice distributed to various states by the Federal Government was certified fit for consumption by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

But NAFDAC’s Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, had said on Tuesday that her agency did not know the status of the 1,800 bags of rice given to Oyo State by the Federal Government. This was after Umar-Farouq had announced on Monday that NAFDAC certified the rice.

Adeyeye had explained that NAFDAC was not invited to take samples and conduct consumption fitness test on Oyo rice consignment, a statement that stood at variance with the claims of the Federal Government.


Reacting to NAFDAC DG’s statement on Wednesday, Umar-Farouq declared that she stood by her earlier statement.

The minister, who stated this while speaking at the daily press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said NAFDAC and the Nigeria Customs Service should sort out the communication gap.


Umar-Farouq said, “On the statement of NAFDAC, we still stand by what we said because this was what was conveyed to us by Customs.

“And a certificate was issued stating that the rice given to us was good for human consumption before we flagged off the distribution in Lagos State.

“We can give you that certificate, maybe by tomorrow or later today. So, the NCS and NAFDAC, I am sure will sort out this communication gap and report back to this platform.”

When contacted on Wednesday by one of our correspondents, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Oyo/Osun Area Command, Abdullahi Musa, said senior officials in the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture inspected the bags of rice and pronounced them good for consumption before they were taken out of the premises of the command.

The Customs spokesman said the Oyo State delegation was led by the Commissioner for Agriculture in the state who was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Agriculture as well as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness.

Asked whether it was true that Customs did not invite NAFDAC officials to inspect the rice given to Oyo, Musa said, “As I stated, if you have seen a high personnel of that type of office from the Ministry of Agriculture led by the commissioner with his team to come and certify, are we saying the office is not up to task?”

He said there was nothing to suggest that the bags of rice had weevils during the time of inspection and eventual evacuation.

He added that Oyo State was the first to come for the rice and request by its officials to pick from a portion of the store was granted by Customs.

Musa said, “They came with their team to check for themselves to be very sure if the rice was actually good or not. As a matter of fact, they were even the ones that came first and they even requested to be allowed to choose the particular segment where their rice should be taken from and we granted their request as their host.”

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