Nigerians are hungry, losing patience wih your Govt — Senate tells President Tinubu

Nigerians are hungry, losing patience wih your Govt — Senate tells President Tinubu

The Senate has urgently called upon the federal government to tackle the pressing issue of hunger caused by food insecurity, which it has identified as an emergency situation.

In response to rising food insecurity, the Senate has urged President Bola Tinubu’s administration to implement effective measures to combat the crisis. It emphasized that with increasing hunger and poverty, people’s patience and tolerance are wearing thin.

Furthermore, the Senate cautioned against an impending crisis, warning that the country cannot afford the unrest that could erupt in its streets. It stressed the need for immediate action by the Executive arm of government to address the grievances of the people and avoid taking their support for granted.

Over recent months, the Senate observed a significant increase in the prices of goods and household essentials across Nigeria. This surge has led to heightened inflation rates, diminished purchasing power, and a deterioration in the living conditions of the majority of Nigerians.

As an urgent response to the food scarcity problem, the Senate disclosed that the Federal Government has dispatched 60 trucks of fertilizer to each of the 36 states, allocating two trucks per Senator and one per member of the House of Representatives.

These Senate resolutions followed a motion titled “Urgent Need to Address Food Insecurity and Market Exploitation of Consumables in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Sunday Karimi of Kogi West, APC, and co-sponsored by Senate Whip Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South, APC.

Senator Karimi highlighted the recent steep rise in the prices of goods and household essentials, which has exacerbated inflation and worsened living conditions for many Nigerians.

According to him, ” the latest data by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that food inflation in the country skyrocketed to 40.66 per cent on a year-on-year basis, a significant increase from the 24.82 per cent recorded in May 2023.”

He said that the Senate is “Aware the current market price of food items such as beans, maize, rice paddy, yam, tomatoes, and onions which initially rose by about 40% after the removal of petroleum Subsidy has now increased to over 100% to 300% without any attributable reason for the increase in prices;

He added that the Senate is “Further aware that although insecurity in food-producing regions, bad roads, increase in the cost of transportation attributable to the removal of fuel subsidy and depreciation of the value of Naira, are possible factors that have contributed to the increase in the price of Food items, Household Commodities, and Consumables; the percentage of increase in the cost of transportation and some under factors listed above is significantly less than the percentage increase in the current prices of goods all over the country;

“Concerned that the greater percentage of the increase in prices of food items and consumables in the Country is not only due to these factors but to the zest of the merchants, traders, and retailers to make supernormal profits whilst they excuse the hike in price on these factors (depreciation of the Naira against the Dollar, increase in price of Petroleum Products due to Fuel price increase and insecurity in farming Regions), thereby heaping all the blame on the Federal Government;

“Notes that there is a general attitude of “Get Rich Quickly” or “Get Rich By All Means” leading many Nigerians to jettison “being their brother’s keeper” and exploiting one another to make abnormal profits: This attitude has been justified on the basis that many members of the Political Class, Technocrats, and Corporate Elites have helped themselves with Public Funds without any repercussions in Law, Nigerian Traders have thus resorted to Price Gouging to maximize profits;

“Further notes that there are reports that Farming Communities in the Border Regions with other Countries, prefer to sell their food items abroad (to these neighbouring countries), rather than domestically(to the hinterland), thereby increasing local food insecurity; and Concludes that all efforts made by the current Federal Executive to arrest the consistent increase in food inflation have not yielded the desired results, there is a need to be more pragmatic about addressing food insecurity, curbing herder farmer crises, kidnapping for ransom, and Terrorism, and ensure the development of a viable National Commodity Board to regulate the price of grains and ensure the elimination of artificial contributions to food and commodity inflation in Nigeria.”

In his contribution, Ndume who lamented that this was the first time Nigeria was listed as one of the countries battling food insecurity, said, “In their many publications, they say Nigeria is likely to experience the highest session of food insecurity globally.

“Currently, there are four countries including Sudan and some others that are facing very serious insecurity. Nigeria is added to this list this year by the International Rescue Committee as one of the spots for food insecurity action against hunger. World Food Program also indicated that over 32 million people are expected to face a critical hunger crisis and emerging levels between June and August.

“I don’t know about some other colleagues, but there in the North, we have started seeing it visibly. This is the first time we are experiencing this level of hunger. It’s the first time Nigeria is being listed as one of the countries with food insecurity.”

On his part, the immediate past President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North told his colleagues that the people are really hungry in the country, warning that patience and tolerance are both elastic, but they are not eternally elastic, just as he took a swipe at the Federal Government, saying that the government has nothing in the food Reserve across the Country and that the Silos are empty.

Lawan said, “Let me say here that patience, and tolerance, are both elastic but they are not eternally elastic. Our students are facing real, real anger. I travelled the two states last week, in the north particularly, and I’ve seen first-hand how people, especially those who are not in the civil service, nor in any business, are suffering, fighting, and struggling to have food at least once a day.

“Under normal circumstances, Mr. President, in the rainy season, from maybe June up to September or October, when there will be harvests of new foodstuff, prices escalate prices of foodstuff. Now we don’t even have that the truth. Mr. President in today’s national daily, the Executive arm of government is saying it is considering reducing or removing taxes on imported foodstuff.

” Here’s the catch. This Senate must engage the executive immediately. What are the issues? Which taxes are they talking about? Because we should be seen to be doing the right thing. We have little or nothing in our food reserve across the country. And nobody. If they come and tell us, they will distribute foodstuff from our silos, the silos are empty. So it means we have to import food. And if we have to import, it means we need foreign exchange.

“We wouldn’t like the kind of thing that we see in our streets and it is time that we take every possible action to get out of the event of the arm of government to ensure that food floods our country, the right food. In portation, the government must be entirely responsible because we cannot, we cannot take people for granted for too long. We have come almost to the end of the patience. And I think the elasticity is now going to snap if we are not careful.”

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