Two days into the three-day public holiday declared by the Niger State government for the distribution of palliatives to the people to cushion the effect of the removal of subsidy from petrol the exercise has hit the rocks throughout the state.
Governor Mohammad Umaru Bahago had last week released N5.3 billion for the purchase of food items and for logistics as well as set up committees to oversee the exercise from last Wednesday.
However, the distribution scheduled to commence simultaneously in all the polling units in the 274 wards in the state has not taken off.
Investigation by THISDAY revealed that people in the wards had been staying on the line waiting for the officials to come with the materials without any success.
On Wednesday one of the ward heads in Minna, had to employ the services of men of the local vigilante to chase the people from his area late in the night when they insisted on waiting to collect the palliatives no matter how late.
Sources close to some of the distribution committees told THISDAY that they were unable to buy the quantity of food items needed for the sharing following the sudden hike in the prices of the commodities as against the amount budgeted.
Since the announcement by the Governor, it was learnt that a bag of local rice had jumped from nearly N40,000 to N60,000, while a measure (Mudu) is being sold for N2000, the same goes for maize which apart from being scarce as a result of the fact it was not harvest time, the price per bag and Mudu had jumped by more than 300 per cent.
Major distributors of rice it was gathered had locked up their warehouses claiming it was not in stock.
The situation was compounded by the directive of the Governor that no cash should be distributed with a warning that any official caught sharing cash would be penalised.
It was learnt that some officials who had travelled to their local governments to carry out the distribution were now contemplating purchasing only what their money could buy but they were afraid of the reaction of the people and the government.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Abubakar Usman was abortive even as his phone line was not connecting.