…too much suffering and growing hunger across Nigeria
Sequel to the current recession in the country and the consequent rising cost of food stuff, many families have been forced to turn to leaves in order to survive
According to a source close to the Nigerian Pilot on Saturday, said leaves such as “tafasa”, spinach, etc had come to the rescue of most families in Kaduna and its environs, while lizards and cats might be endangered as some children were seen hunting them to provide a cheap source of protein for the impoverished families.
A resident of the state,Malam Bukar Shaibu said it was sad that even the rich around Kawo,Unguwan Dosa, Hayin Banki and Unguwan Kanawa, and others areas of the state are helpless in assisting the less privilege in the society, adding that they had the capability to assist the poor amongst them but were not living up the masses expectation as the harsh economic recession is also biting hard on them too.
“Some of them have gone on Hajj for the umpteenth time, while the money can be used to buy food and feed many mouths. Hajj is incumbent upon a Muslim, once,” he said.
According to him, “rice and maize have turned into precious commodities which only the rich and privileged ones can afford ,many of our people now feed on leaves, some cannot even cook the normal ‘pate’, they are seriously feeling the pang of an excruciating poverty. We pray the government will come to the people’s rescue by establishing free feeding centers .”
“The other times, I saw some children chasing a big agama lizard, they said when roasted, the meat look sweet, even cats,dogs are no longer spared,” he said.
The youth leader challenged those in authority to explain how the food items donated to the state by Hajiya Aisha Buhari, were disbursed ,alleging that there was no adequate publicity, if any, on how the items were distributed.
” people here are suffering, hunger is everywhere ,if you go to the Masjid you see people begging for money to buy food, go to the hospitals ,you see malnourished children and the doctors will say it’s either malaria or typhoid.”
“Government should please come to our help of the down-trodden ,” he said.
To underscore the excruciating pains from hunger that the people are experiencing now, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose,recently joined the growing list of persons pleading with the federal government to listen to the yearnings of the people and ameliorate their suffering.
Fayose lamented that Nigerians, especially the common people are unable to meet basic needs as a result of the harsh economic realities prevalent in the country, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give his’ change mantra’ a human face.
“The reality our President must face now is that there is too much hunger in the land, Nigerians are hungry, they are suffering and the President should rather listen to those who are more knowledgeable than him in terms of management of the country’s economy instead of seeing them as threats.
“It is no longer about politics. Rather, it is about preventing hunger from exterminating Nigerians and I am sure that the president himself knows that hunger does not understand political parties.
“A bag of rice that was less than N8,000 when President Buhari assumed office is now over N20,000! How can a civil servant that is earning N18, 000 minimum wage survive when his monthly salary cannot buy one bag of rice?
“Even basic drugs and medicare are getting out of the reach of the common people and the resultant effect of this will be avoidable deaths!
“As at today, a bag of cement is N2, 200, increment of N700 on one bag in just one day. Within four months, exchange rate rose with more than 150 percent, with dollar that was a little above N200 then, now more than N400.
“The harsh reality is that a Nigerian whose income was N100,000 per month in 2015 and still earning the same N100,000 now is actually earning less than N40,000 because what he could buy with N100,000 then cannot be bought with N200,000 now.
“This is the worst time for parents whose children and wards will be going back to school in September. How to pay school fees is causing depression for a lot of parents in just over a year of the Buhari’s administration,” Fayose said urging to abandon politics of victimisation, highhandedness but to focus truly by addressing the basic needs of the people.
This agrees with the concern expressed by former Heads of State, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Yakubu Gowon that the federal government should up with common man friendly policies. They lauded his frontal battle against corruption but urged that some reasonable attention should be directed at evolving policies and programmes which could have positive effect on the lives of Nigerians.
In this regard, Fayose, who has been in running battle with the President over his alleged one-sided persecution of political foes, thinks the president should abandon politics for once and seek the assistance of well-meaning Nigerians from sundry fields to help advance shrewd economic policies that would address the yearnings of the teeming population.
“All these are signs that President Buhari needs help from those who can assist the country to avert this imminent economic collapse and he should not be ashamed to consult even those who ran the economy under the PDP government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan because it appears that things were better then, than now.
“Therefore, rather than preoccupying himself with newspaper cartoons, our President should listen to suggestions being offered by Nigerians on ways to bring the country’s economy out of recession that it is now.”
Last week, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, slammed the federal government’s repressive policies and urged the President to urgently return the country to the drawing board and expand the economy through wise investments capable of yielding economic growth and development.
Speaking at a lecture of the joint planning board and National Council on Development Planning in Kano, titled: “Nigeria in search of new growth model”, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said as a friend of the president he could not shy away from advising the government when he found that he was getting it wrong on the economy.
Emir Sanusi stated that the current economic policy and its inconsistency does not favour business and investment in the country, warning President Buhari that if he does not act fast, his government could end up in failure.
Sanusi laid the blame on the door step of Buhari’s economic advisers and cautioned him to be wary of the activities of “voodoo economists at the corridors of power”.
“If we do not expand the economy through wise investment, we can end up in classical Malthusian situation. We are always blaming the past administration, but we have also made mistakes in this administration. The problem is that there is nothing we are facing today that we did not know what happened. That is the truth.
“We made mistakes, many of them deliberate. We ignored every single warning. Not building roads, not building power and other necessary infrastructure that can boost the economy and development of the country
“In 2010 when I was Governor of Central Bank, the government increased minimum wage to N18, 000. I protested, but they went ahead and borrowed money to pay. In 2012, as Governor of CBN, I said that this is an unsustainable wage bill. We need to reduce the size of public service, which fell on deaf ears,” he said in apparent tacit condemnation of the growing agitation to up the minimum wage to shore up the spiralling costs of food commodities.
Sanusi thinks wage increase is a palliative measure that should not be considered rather he thinks the government concentrate efforts on enlivening the economy by opening up the system and being dynamic with the Transfer Single Account, TSA, which many say has resulted in limited liquidity in the system since all revenue accruable to the federation account are paid into a single account.
Reports across the country said Nigerians have attributed the soaring hunger in the land on the government’s flexible foreign exchange rate claiming that it has engineered spiraling inflation because virtually everything in the market has increased in folds.
This assessment is corroborated by the most recent Bloomberg report which asserted that the Nigerian local currency, Naira, is the worst performing currency this year among more than 150 currencies globally.
It says that the naira has depreciated 37 per cent against the dollar since the CBN abandoned its peg on June 20, while bond yields have jumped to more than 20 percent. The naira strengthened 4.6 percent to 315 per dollar on Tuesday after falling to a record 350.25 on August 19.
Lutz Roehmeyer, a money manager at Landesbank Berlin Investment, which oversees about $12 billion of assets, said:“The cheap naira is attracting foreign investors. At 325 per dollar, the naira is too weak and Landesbank anticipates a rebound.
According to Bloomberg, “the naira has now weakened more than any other major oil currency since mid-2014, when crude prices started retreating. It’s lost almost half its value against the dollar in that period, compared with 46 percent for Kazakhstan’s tenge and 35 percent for the Colombian peso.”
Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at Exotix in London, wrote in an Aug. 9 note;” That makes it a good time to buy Nigerian one-year Treasury bills with yields of about 22 percent.”
Confirming the gloomy situation, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, on Wednesday, August 31 in its latest report said that the economy has nosedived following soaring inflation for nine unbroken years.
It stated: “The pace of the increase in the headline index was however weighed upon by a slower increase in three divisions; health, transport, recreation and culture divisions.
“The onset of the harvest season is yet to have a significant impact on food prices. It is yet to have a significant impact as the Food Sub-index increased by 15.8 per cent (year-on-year) in July, 0.5 per cent points lower from rates recorded in June.
“Prices however increased at a slower pace across a few groups within the food sub-index, namely milk, cheese and eggs; oils and fats; and fruits.’’
The report added that imported foods as reflected by the imported food sub-index increased by 0.4 per cent points from June to 20.5 per cent in July.
Further, it stated: “In July, the core sub-index increased by 16.9 per cent during the month, up by 0.7 per cent points from rates recorded in June (16.2 per cent).
“During the month, the highest increases were seen in the electricity, liquid fuel (kerosene), solid fuels, and fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment groups.
“Month-on-month, the headline index increased, albeit, at a slower pace, for the second consecutive month in July. The index increased by 1.3 per cent in July, 0.4 per cent points from 1.7 per cent recorded in June.’’
The NBS also said the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, declines by -2.06 per cent (year-on-year) in the second quarter of 2016. What this translates to is then growing hunger in the land leading to a situation where a man sold his son for a bag of rice in Kano.
In Marraba, a suburb in the FCT, theft of cooked food has become rampant that people no longer openly complain about it but about the ‘change mantra’ being a chain mantra.