For any serious government, by now, there should have been a declaration of a state of emergency to address the problem of rising food prices and high prices generally. Blaming opposition for the protests that have broken out in some two cities in Nigeria is like being drown in one’s sorrow. The APC is either
For any serious government, by now, there should have been a declaration of a state of emergency to address the problem of rising food prices and high prices generally. Blaming opposition for the protests that have broken out in some two cities in Nigeria is like being drown in one’s sorrow. The APC is either not getting the drift or may have lost touch with the reality of happenings in the country or simply living in denial.
In a statement titled: OPPOSITION PARTIES INSTIGATING MASS PROTESTS TO UNDERMINE GOVERNMENT, the APC blamed opposition parties saying “opposition parties have resorted to instigating unsuspecting young people to protests in the streets of some major cities.
“The protests in Minna and Kano on Monday were the manifestation of this devious and unpatriotic plot. That the protests happened simultaneously in both cities is not coincidental. It bears a bold stamp of an orchestrated and coordinated effort to instigate unrest and undermine the government. This mercenary opposition tactic is a clear and present threat to public peace and national security”.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Blaming opposition for a general problem; as if members of the APC buy their foods from some special markets where they’re cheaper is still living in denial. The hunger in town today has no border lines of religion, tribe or membership of political parties. It is “universal”.
The APC and its government should stop making excuses that the opposition is the cause of the protests but seek ways of stopping them from spreading. There is hunger in the land, he who feels it knows it. An average Nigerian is more concerned about food on his table than all the grammar and attempts to spin imaginary stories around the truth. Those concerned should roll up their sleeves and truly hit the ground running because the future is laced with danger.
Instead, the government should seek urgent solutions before the problem escalates to a large-scale crisis and spreads across Nigeria like the EndSARS crisis under President Buhari. It may be illusionary to suggest that these protests are driven by any political party. They are rather galvanized by economic woes and hardships being experienced by the people. History has taught us that food prices crisis often leads to unprecedented social unrest, the type that once consumed the government of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka problem started with soaring prices of basic commodities which led the government to introduce and imposed price control which gave rise to another problem of how do you force traders to sell at a price below which they purchased their goods. As the government tried to solve one problem, it created another until the situation boiled over.
Soaring fuel prices and food prices are known to have fueled protests across the globe generally for decades. Researchers have defined an unprecedented global wave of more than 12,500 protests across 148 countries over food, fuel and cost of living increases in year 2022 alone. And the largest were in Western Europe.
Prices of food and especially energy were pushed up first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by the war in Ukraine. And, while food and energy shortages have hit the Global South hardest (countries like Brazil, India, Pakistan) the crisis of affordability is sending increasing numbers of people onto the streets in the richer countries of the Northern Hemisphere like Canada, Belgium and several European countries.
There’re ongoing farmers’ protests across Europe where the farmers are clogging the streets with their tractors, blocking ports and pelting the European Parliament with eggs over a long list of complaints from environmental regulation to excessive red tape. One of the farmers said “We are no longer making a living from our profession,”
In all these climes, nobody blames the opposition for protests that are legitimate to protect their economic rights or battle of survival. The APC should know that politicking associated with the electioneering campaigns is over, and face the serious art of governance by delivering on its campaign promises.
Last night, it was reported that a presidential committee on emergency food intervention was meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja over the rising cost of living in the country. The committee is convened by Femi Gbajabiamila, chief of staff (CoS), to President Bola Tinubu.
In attendance were Nuhu Ribadu, the national security adviser (NSA); Yemi Cardoso, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Tahir Mamman, minister of education; Wale Edun; minister of finance and Abubakar Kyari, minister of agriculture, as well as Mohammed Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Minister of State for Agriculture.
It was reported that President Bola Tinubu has directed the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention to immediately step into the worsening food security crisis in the country and stem the tide.
A similar attempt to arrest food crisis in the country was made under President Buhari when he set up food farm estates in the 109 Senatorial districts of Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the first farm estate executed by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) In Daura, the President’s home town. Another one was commenced in Yobe the home state of the then Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. But all the others didn’t see the light of day.
Disturbingly, the then Chairman of the food security committee is today’s Budget and Economic Planning minister and a member of the emergency food committee just set up by President Tinubu and one wonders what kind of advice he would be offering.
President Bola Tinubu has directed the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention to immediately step into the worsening food security crisis in the country and stem the tide.
Immediate intervention as announced after the meeting: -Government would be releasing food items from the National Food Reserves to boost food availability.
Government will be talking to major millers and major commodity traders, to also see what is available in their stores, discuss with them, provide some intervention (food subsidy) to make this food available to Nigerians.
In whatever, the government does or intends to do, it should remember that hunger is a unifying language for protests and therefore, act fast.