The National Civil Society Council of Nigeria (NCSCN), says the unfortunate stampede that occurred during the distribution of subsidised rice in Lagos on Feb. 23, will have been averted if a minister had been appointed to oversee the affairs of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

The NCSCN stated this in a communique it issued at the end of an emergency meeting to deliberate on the state of the nation and other issues on the front burner of national discourse.

According to the council, the inactivity of the Ministry over lack of a substantive minister, can be said to be largely responsible for the Feb. 23 unfortunate incident.

”The Nigeria Custom Service would have been relieved of the burden of the distribution of intervention items and saved itself from any attendant complications.

”The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation should have been active enough to play its mandatory role.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation has been without a minister since the suspension of Beta Edu by President Bola Tinubu, over the scandal and crises that rocked the Ministry.

According to the council, in the communique jointly signed by its Executive Director, Blessing Akinlosotu and Maxi Oscar Kalu, its Director of Programand Organization, food insecurity, living below standard, closure of industries, leading to loss of jobs, were responsible for the current state of things in the country.

It further listed other issues such as low productivity, occasioned by high exchange rate and inability of farmers to access their farms due to banditry, kidnapping and insurgency; as the bane of Nigeria’s current challenges

”The adhoc committee report on the issues of stampede at the point of Rice sales in Lagos, revealed that the goodwill of the Nigeria Customs, aimed at widening the population of beneficiaries led to re-packaging of the 50kg bags to 25kg bags, and to be sold at N10,000 each.
”The committee then discovered that the inactiveness in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation is due to the unfortunate absence of a Minister.

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”The Ministry once witnessed an unflinching commitment of a minister in the standing of Beta Edu, her patriotic zeal, and the willingness to deliver on the mandate of the ministry.

”While we await a quick resolution, we expect that justice would have been done and lessons learnt and a rejuvenated Ministry will commence delivery on its statutory mandate.

NCSCN, however, commended the impressive performance of the NCS, under the new C-G, Mr Bashir Adeniyi, towards fighting Smuggling and Smugglers head-on, with intensified vigour which has yielded remarkable results and positive dividends.

”The drastic reduction in the influx of contraband goods and illegal exportations of domestically needed produce and products from our borders within past few months is clear testimony to this monumental achievements of the new C-G.

”The monthly contributions of the Nigeria Customs Service to our Tax Earnings and Internally Generated Revenue has reasonably increased since the inception of Office of the new Comptroller General.

”And from available indexes, the figures are believed to be on steady increase in coming months and years.

”This accomplishment, if sustained has potency of reinvigorating the nation’s ailing economy,” the NCSCN said in the communique.

NSCSN appeals for the strengthen and reinvigoration of the Ministry and need for a Young and capable Minister with performance records as was observed in Dr Beta Edu, before the unfortunate development.