BULK PURCHASE AGENCY:
CHRAN URGES AKHA TO TOUR 31 LG COUNCILS, DECRIES LACK OF DEVELOPMENT

A good governance group in Nigeria, the Center For Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), has decried the poor state of development in the 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom State, urging the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to wake up to its oversight responsibility by, as a first line measure, embarking on a tour of the 31 councils to appraise and spur up effective development at the grassroots.

The CHRAN’s assertion was contained in the position paper submitted by the organisation at the Public Hearing held by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on “A Bill for a Law to Establish the Akwa Ibom State Bulk Purchase Agency and for Other Matters Connected Therewith,” held on Monday, 26th February, 2024 at the Assembly Complex, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The Center suggested that the Board of Trustees of the Bulk Purchase Agency should be expanded to include: The Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources; The Commissioners responsible for the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare; Labour and Manpower Planning, and Transportation; and a representative of the civil society organisations (CSOs) in Akwa Ibom State.

The Center noted that the purpose of the Bill and the objectives of the Agency might be jeopardised by Section 5(1)(c) and (d), which listed the functions of the Agency to include “collaborating with major distributors of non-perishable foods, and collaborating with market associations and unions for proper coordination of supply and distribution,” expressing fears that the major distributors and market associations and unions will constitute pernicious middlemen capable of impeding or even defeating the laudable objectives of the Bill. The CHRAN asked that Section 5(1)(c) and (d) be expunged from the Bill.

The CHRAN suggested that the food stuff listed in the Schedule to the Bill should be expanded to include: “Pepper, Cocoyam, Water-yam, Plantain, Banana, Afang, Vegetables and Seafood.”

On grassroots development, the CHRAN also urged the Government of Akwa Ibom State to enable the 31 local governments to function optimally so as to accelerate agricultural and grassroots development.

“The CHRAN observes the poor state of development in the 31 Local Government Areas of the State in spite of increased federal allocation to the local governments as a result of fuel subsidy removal.

“The CHRAN calls on the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to ensure effective oversight of the local governments by, as a first line measure, embarking on inspection tour of the 31 Local Government Areas to appraise and spur effective development at the grassroots.”

The CHRAN’s position, which was signed by its Director and Secretary, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and Barr. Christopher Ekpo, respectively, was presented at the Public Hearing by its Director.

The CHRAN commended the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, for conceiving the Bill but noted that existing Laws on Agriculture and grassroots development, such as: “the Agriculture Law (Cap.12), Agricultural Loans Law (Cap.11), Agricultural Development Programme Law (Cap. 10), Agency for Community and Social Development Law (Cap. 8), and Cooperatives Societies Law (Cap. 36), contained in the Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2022,” be vigorously implemented to provide enabling medium and long term bases for the flourishing of the Bulk Purchase Agency, which the Bill seeks to establish.

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