Fallouts of the country’s economic downturn that have continued to impact adversely on Nigerians have thrown up a groundswell of calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to act fast to ameliorate their plight. The recent development is coming on the heels of calls by notable Nigerians for amelioration of the hardship being experienced by fellow Nigerians.
Inferences from a nationwide vox pop conducted by Nigerian Pilot earlier in the week indicate that while the purchasing power of the people, especially those on the lower rung of the economic ladder has grossly diminished, unit costs of critical consumption items like foodstuffs have been on the rise causing dislocations in many homes.
In most states of the southwest where food items are relatively available, many respondents disclosed that their prices have become prohibitive. Said one respondent in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, “we see the foodstuffs, but where is the money to buy them. These days, once we can take care of two meals a day for the children, we, the parents just sit back and believe that somehow it will be well before darkness comes.”
In Lagos, an electronics salesman, Obi Nwokoye told Nigerian Pilot that “before now, I choose what to eat and what my family will eat. But now, whatever my little money can afford, I provide for them at home. Thank God, my family members understand.”
The situation is different in states up north of the country where respondents fear that given the increase in the prices of food stuff and the falling value of the Naira vis-à-vis the Dollar, hunger prevails all over.
A trader in Lugbe market in Abuja, Mrs. Ekaika, Bello instantly transferred her anger and aggression at Nigerian Pilot when asked to react to a question on food stuff prices. When she was calmed down, she said, “nor be my fault sey I vex for you people.” Pointing at a small plastic bottle of vegetable oil, she said, we used to sell it for N300. But now it goes for N400. But you people don’t understand how much we buy them. Instead, you will be insulting us if we tell you the price when you come to buy.”
Also, around Nyayan/Mararaba area of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nigerian Pilot was told how the economic downturn has turned co-tenants in large houses suspicious of one another.
Said one tenant at Nyayan market, “you are not aware that these days we sit by our cooking pots on fire till the food is done. If not, the moment you leave it in the kitchen to get anything inside your house, by the time you return, you will meet an empty pot. Somebody go don turn your food and waka go.” He attributed the new survival tactics to hardship, unpaid salaries and rising cost of foodstuff, among other factors.
In Katsina state, early in the week, residents of Ladanawa reportedly stole bags of poisonous grains meant for destruction.
According to media reports, the state Commissioner for Local Government, Abdulkadir Ahmed Zakka who made the disclosure, a truck conveying 300 bags of grains from the state Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (KTARDA) main store to another location for destruction, broke down in the village while on its way.
He said the hungry villagers came out in their numbers and began to steal from the grains which had poured out of the bags.
The same situation played out across the country.
Sultan of Sokoto counsels Buhari
Last Monday, Sultan of Sokoto, AlhajiSa’adAbubakar III, asked the federal government to review anti-people policies. Abubakar said: “Those in authority should appreciate the fact that they hold power in trust for the people. They should listen and be prepared to make policy changes that address the welfare of the common people.
The presidency seems to also know the state of the nation as Buhari pleaded with religious leaders on Thursday, July 28, to preach message of hope to worshippers across the country.
Nigerians are hungry- ShehuSani
At an event in Kaduna early this week also, Senator ShehuSani lamented the current state of the economy saying that many people are facing the challenge of hunger and can barely meet their basic needs.
“We know that Nigerians are facing hunger, no money for school fees and no jobs,” he told residents of Nassarawa, a suburb in Kaduna.
President Muhammadu Buharihad last month admitted that his administration is aware of serious shortage of foods in many families in the country adding that government was working hard to address the food shortage. He gave an assurance that in the next one-and-half years, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in grains like rice, beans and others.
Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, yam, and cowpea; yet it is a food-deficit nation and depends on imports of grains, livestock products, and fish (IFAD 2012). Of an estimated 71 million hectares of cultivable land, only half is currently used for farming; there is similar potential for an expansion of irrigation, which now only covers 7 percent of irrigable land. Most of the rural population farms on a subsistence scale, using small plots and depending on seasonal rainfall. A lack of infrastructure such as roads further exacerbates poverty in rural areas by isolating rural farmers from needed inputs and profitable markets (IFAD and World Bank 2012).