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Friday, May 24, 2024

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Just Before Nigerians Starve to Death

 Olushola Bello

The government can arrest the constant increase in the prices of food items by encouraging farmers to go back to farms, but, it must curb the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen, by providing the necessary security to guarantee food security.

… Beans N 5,500 per paint, Cement N10,000 per bag, Cooking gas N 15,000 for 12.5 kg, Pure water producers may stop production because of the price of diesel. Which way Nigeria?

The cost of both food items and building materials which are necessities of life have gone up astronomically thereby creating fears of uncertainty for the future in Nigeria.

Some of the items concerned are beans, Cement, cooking gas, pure water, bread, Rice, Garri and yams. They are not the only ones affected in terms of price increment; they are however too basic to human life that whatever is happening in these sectors should not be ignored by any government that means well for its citizens. This is why the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must act now before things get out of hand.

There are pockets of protest in different parts of the country; these are bad signals the government must not allow to continue before they become uncontrollable.

A paint of beans as of Monday19, 2024 was N5,500 from N4,800 on Friday, also Garri of the same volume was N2500 from N2000 last week, and a bag of rice is N75,000 and above. A 12.5 kg cylinder of cooking gas is now N15,000. A bag of cement is N10,000 from N5,500 in January.  There is no guarantee that the prices will not continue to rise. Where does this lead us to, if not starvation?

With the rate of inflation in the country, there is no amount of money one can hold and it would be enough to keep the household together, at least for the average Nigerian.  With a paint of garri sold for N2, 500. How does a man who earns N18,000 a month with a wife and three children in school survive?  The man who earns a daily wage that may just be about N2,500 daily, how does he handle this situation?

Nigerians are lamenting the cost of living as prices of goods and services go up daily.

This situation has turned responsible family men and women begging for money on the streets just to allow their wards to have something to eat.

There is indeed an economic crisis across the world that has affected a lot of consumables, some of which are either produced abroad or in Nigeria. Either way foreign exchange is required tp produce them.

The government, therefore, needs to intervene on these issues. This is not a fuel subsidy matter which has caused much distortions to our economy. This has to do with food and the survival of Nigerian citizens, and the government cannot continue to leave the food situation to the forces of demand and supply to determine their prices. In other climes, the government subsidises foods and protects farmers against insecurity

One of the major reasons why these items are costly is because of transportation and to some extent; they are scarce because the Fulani herdsmen have prevented farmers of many of the food-producing regions in the country from going to their farms.  The Fulani herdsmen either kidnap the farmers or take their cows to the farms to eat up the crops and nobody should challenge them.

As per transportation, the non-functionality of our rail transport system is a big challenge to moving food items after harvest from the rural areas or semi-urban centers to the city centers. To transport these items from one location to another or from the North to the Southern part of the country, you will have to use trucks that run on diesel or Automotive Gas Oil (AGO)

With the current exchange rate of $1 to N1,500, it has become very expensive for transporters to run their vehicles on AGO. Currently, a liter of AGO is about N2000 per litre. This has huge cost implications on food items that are transported from one part of the country to another. The government needs to address this immediately.

The lack of stability in the foreign exchange regime is a big destabilizing factor in this respect. This determines the price of AGO and by extension the price of food items supplied to different parts of the nation. AGO is a deregulated commodity, its price is subject to the vagaries of the forces of demand and supply.

On the issue of the herdsmen, if the federal and state governments are serious, they will deal with it, except if there is something they are afraid of about the herdsmen. There is no reason why governments at all levels, especially the federal government, cannot put a stop to the menace of these wicked men by deploying security men to guard farmers and protect their crops.

The federal government should make a definitive statement on the activities of herdsmen before other Nigerians take up arms against them in protest.

These herdsmen are the real enemies of Nigeria and the federal government must make a very strong statement concerning their activities in the land.

There is indeed banditry in some parts of the country which has prevented farmers from accessing their farms, so also Boko Haram.

It is unacceptable the level of destruction that areas in the North Central and South-West, South East and South-South have suffered. The destruction of farmlands is traceable to these herdsmen. It is time for the government to act.

Cooking gas: This is one commodity that previous administrations have so much promoted for good reasons, but now the essence is being defeated through price escalation.  The price of the commodity is now N15,000 per 12.5 kg, one kg has gone up astronomically beyond the reach of households, and a lot of them have jettisoned it for firewood. The previous administrations promoted the use of cooking gas to promote good health among Nigerians.

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited normally provides more than half of the cooking gas that the country uses but could hardly have enough for its commercial purposes, so it could not make available the quantity it would normally have provided if things were right.

Currently, the larger volume of the commodity is imported with all its attendant foreign exchange complexities. The consequence of this is that the price of the commodity has hit the roof and gone beyond the reach of the common man and woman the government had planned to protect against the hazards of firewood.

The government needs to work hard with other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to fix the problems being faced by NLNG and other industry operators if our forest depletion must be checked.

The highlights here are just a few of the things that Nigerians are experiencing and if they are not addressed properly, there will be crisis of greater dimension before long. I hope our situation doesn’t have to get there.

The government of President Bola Tinubu the time to act is now to avoid Nigerians starving to death

businessstandardsng.com: A strategic cross-reporting initiative.

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