The Chairman Lagos Council of The Nigerian Union Of Journalists , Dr Qasim Akinreti, has joined the Presidential Joint Task Force on Emergency Response To COVID-19, on behalf of the union.
The Presidential Task Force is to coordinate challenge of movement of good and agricultural inputs into Lagos state .
The task force made up of seven members are drawn from the media, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and rural development, farmers groups, the security agencies, Road Transport workers and Transport owners.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Commissioner Of Police Lagos state, Mr Akeem Odumosu said that there had been some concerns by members of the agricultural sector that they had avoidable delays on the roads across the mostly from the security agencies.
The CP therefore listed the terms of reference of the committee to include: “Working with relevant agencies in the states and local government areas to facilitate free and unhindered movement of food, livestock and other agricultural inputs without compromising the security and health of the nation;
“To issue out clear instructions to all the security personnel in the three internal security outfits of Police, Civil Defence and the Army on the need to allow the free and unhindered movement of foodstuff, livestock and agricultural inputs to all parts of Nigeria.
“To work with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to adequately educate its members in ensuring that vehicles conveying foodstuffs, livestock and agricultural inputs, excluding passengers, are allowed to pass.
“To ensure that adequate information clarifying the controlled movement of foodstuff, livestock and agricultural inputs is disseminated by the media to food transporters and security personnel.
Odumosu said agricultural products and produce are perishables goods that must not be allowed to waste in order to boost food security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inaugurating the team at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Ikeja, the CP said that the team was initiated to facilitate free movement of agriculture produce and livestock.
Odumosu said other members of the team include Dr Femi Oke, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State as member; and Muhammad Waksha, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Qasim Akinreti, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State and Mrs Olayinka Akeredolu, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Secretary, were also in the team.
Others are Mr Jimoh Buhari, National Union of Road Transport Workers, member; and Mr Kayode Odunowo, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
The Police Commissioner noted that agricultural products have life span, and at the border of each state, we have health personnel checking the status of the produce before they would be allowed into any other state.
The NUJ chairman Lagos state Council promised to mobilize the media for effective dissemination of the committee’s work for the sustainable developmentof the country against the backdrop of COVID -19 challenges on food security.
Recently, similar team was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and directed that each state of the country should have its own committee.
Also speaking, Mrs Olayinka Akeredolu, State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oko-Oba, Lagos, said the joint team was the initiative of the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanunu.
Akeredolu said the minister directed that there should be a team that would oversee and ensure the free flow of agricultural product and produce.
She noted that the country was now in the farming season where a lot of activities going on in the farms , farmers need inputs, agricultural chemicals and many other things on the farms , they need easy movement to the farms.” She stated.
In her words, “Agriculture is time bound, there are some activities that should take place at a certain period of time and we don’t want a situation whereby farming activities will not be able to go on smoothly.
Also, many agricultural products are perishable, within a few hours they can get spoilt and we don’t want a situation whereby agricultural produce that are coming from the farms will stay hours at the check points and will go rotten. When the farm produce go rotten, the farmers will not have value for efforts, they don’t have money and they will not be willing to do more in the next farming season,”.
Dr Femi Oke, a member of the task team, lauded the federal government for setting up the committee.
Oke said farmers were very happy with the team as it would facilitate free flow of farm produce and products during the COVID-19 pandemic.