Confusion, Complaints Trail Sale of Lake Rice In Ikorodu
-Residents praise Ambode’s initiative, want bank, military presence at sales centre.
If urgent intervention is not accorded the noble idea of the Lagos State Government to make quality and affordable rice available to the teeming populace of the economic and cultural hub of Africa, many residents in Ikorodu may end up not getting the lake rice despite paying into a designated account for the purchase of the rice.
The sales of lake rice which is a joint venture between Lagos and Kebbi State, commenced on Thursday, December 22, 2016, across the state but while there have been success stories from other sale centres in the state, the situation at Farm Settlement, Odogunyan, Ikorodu, has attracted complaints from the residents.
Speaking with Mr Adeniran Ogunbanwo, the Secretary, Ikorodu North Local Council Area (LCDA), Community Development Committee (CDC), he described the process as stressful and called on the government to go back to the old arrangement of distributing the rice through the local government and LCDAs.
“This process is not ideal. A situation where there is only one location in Ikorodu is not right because it makes the process stressful which was why much success could not be achieved yesterday (Thursday) in terms of selling the rice to the public. I have been here since 7.30am to monitor the process but there has not been any improvement .
“I think the government should distribute the rice on local governments and LCDA basis. The process of going to the bank to pay and bringing teller to the sales centre is very stressful. It is not ideal to keep the same people which you want to help waiting perpetually at the distribution location especially in the festive period. The government should understand that virtually everyone has ATM and why not make the bank to bring down their services to the distribution centres? He queried.
“There is no way one location can will serve people from Imota, Igbogbo, Ijede, Owutu, Ebute-Ipakodo and other towns with about six officials attending to the people”
A pastor who spoke with our reporter while appreciating the government’s gesture called on the governor to ensure that the distribution centres are manned with armed men to prevent civil servants from derailing the process.
“This is not what Govenor Ambode sent them to do. They are making the process cumbersome and scary. We were not told that we have to pay to the bank until we got here on Thursday. And after going to the bank to pay the money, we had to come back here and queued throughout the day and we are back here again today (Friday, December 23, 2016) to get the rice we have paid. Look at an old man like me queueing since two days ago to get lake rice yet there is no hope in sight”, the old man lamented.
A woman in her 60s also lamented about the stress that characterizes the process and called on the government to draft armed police or soldiers to the Ikorodu distribution centre.
“I have my money to get rice for my family, but since the government’s gesture is noble and we do not have to go to Seme border again that is why I’m here but what we are seeing here is contrary to our expectations. The officials are favouring themselves and their own people. Of all the names on their list, none of us here could find our names on it. There are two vehicles in that compound filled with lake rice for themselves while they are pushing us around. Many have paid and many are still paying into the bank”
Mrs Abimbola while reacting said, “They asked us to go to pay to the Zenith bank yesterday (Thursday, December 22), and we went there to pay, and since yesterday, we have been expecting the rice but we don’t know what is happening”
Another resident, Mrs Sanni, said, “ This centre is not enough for the entirety of Ikorodu residents. What we heard was that the the rice will be made available in each Local Government and Local Council Development Area (LCDAs), but unfortunately, we discovered that it is only in one place they are selling it”
Mr Kayode Sholale in his own reaction stated, “I have been here since yesterday. We were first asked to queue and later we were told to go the bank to make payment. But when they discovered that all that were not working, they brought POS but that too was to no avail. The officials have said nothing to us despite the fact that people are still paying to the bank. We are appealing to the government to bring armed officers to man the distribution centre for effective distribution.
Another resident lamented, “If I had known, I would have taken my money to the market to buy rice rather than coming here to suffer myself without any assurance of getting the rice . The government should find a way to make the rice available for us without stress”
Another resident also lamented that she was disappointed at the arrangement but also quick to appreciate the government’s gesture in making the Yuletide a joyful one for Lagosians.
Other residents complained about the stress of going to the bank to pay and waiting for several hours for confirmation, favouritism by the government officials and the need for decentralization of the process.
While appreciating the government’s gesture, the residents also complained about the long process of confirmation of payment by the bank as well as the single bank being used in the process.
Many of the residents at the centre also called on the government to draft armed police or military men to the centre to ensure sanity.
THE IMPACT discovered that many residents who paid for many bags of lake rice and equally brought in other people to answer fake names on the list of the buyers in an attempt to beat the government policy of one bag per person were disappointed.
Attempt to speak with the officials proved abortive as our reporter could not get through the angry and agitated residents who besieged the sales centre.
Meanwhile, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, assured the residents that the government meant well with the initiative.
“It is an initiative not only to encourage but also show the Lagos State government’s desire to promote local industry. The arrangement is one bag per an individual and our people should be vigilant about this. With time, there is going to be an improvement but I can assure you that we are poise to effectively make the lake rice available in every home in Lagos” the Commissioner assured.
Through investigation, THE IMPACT authoritatively gathered that the stringent measure of making payment to the bank and bringing the teller to sales centre to acquire the rice is aimed at checkmating the civil servants and politicians from hijacking the process out of the reach of the common people which the initiative is meant for.
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