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Tinubu declares state of emergency on food

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By Abraham Adekunle

President moves to tackle rising food prices and shortages amid economic crisis.

As the subsidy on fuel was finally removed at the end of June 2023, the resulting inflation reflected immediately on the prices of foods. There was also shortage of food due to the insecurity in the northern part of the country. It has been reported by the media that the insecurity in the north has made farmers stop crop cultivation for fear of being harmed or kidnapped. Recently, a successful rice farmer had to close his business because of the insecurity in the region and has moved his business to other West African countries with stability.

Without this input, it is evident that the stock of rice available to Nigerians has lessened. Farmers have been reported to have paid armed bandits who taxed them before they got access to their farmlands. Those who refused to pay were kidnapped and held for ransom. Apart from this menace, there is no means of preserving farm produce so that these products have to be sent to the market or they would get spoiled. The cost of transportation has also tripled because of the increased cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Millions of Nigerians at risk of hunger in 2023.

According to the United Nations, millions of Nigerians were at the risk of hunger and malnutrition in 2020, 2021 and 2022. A UN report in January 2023 has also projected that 25 million people in Nigeria were at high risk of food insecurity. This simply means that they would not be able to afford staple foods every day. Concerns about food insecurity have been longstanding in Africa’s most-populous country, which has also been battling widespread insecurity for several years.

More than 350 farmers were kidnapped or killed in the 12 months up to June 2022 alone, according to a Nigerian security tracking website. Many of these attacks occurred in the northern region, including the Middle Belt. So, there is a new security measure put in place to protect these farmers. According to the president’s new policy, protection is to be increased for farmers, many of whom have abandoned their land after becoming the target of gangs that kidnap for ransom.

FG plans to share palliatives to poor families for six months.

Some of the initiatives which the Federal Government has put in place is the provision of fertilizers and grain to farmers using the funds saved by the recent removal of fuel subsidy. Most importantly, the highlight of the week is that the government has earmarked billions of naira to be given to poorer households, majority of whom are in the north. This is a token of N8,000 ($10 or £8) every month for six months. Tinubu assured Nigerians that no one will be left behind in these strategic interventions.

Also, all matters relating to essential food and water will now to be the responsibility of the National Security Council, which is made up of the country’s security chiefs and headed by the president. further details were given about how the government intends to tackle the notorious organised criminal gangs, whose members are referred to as bandits. However, from all indications, the president aims to tackle the menace of food insecurity in the country head on.

Many families cannot feed as a result of price surge.

Fuel subsidy removal has led to increases of up to 200% in some parts of the country, but the new president has defended the move, saying it is essential to use that money more effectively. The rise in fuel has had a knock-on effect on the economy, with many Nigerians depending on generators for their electricity supply. The electricity distribution companies have also applied to the government for an increase in tariff. Meanwhile, the new monthly stipend is going to 12 million households via a scheme known as the National Safety Net Programme. The president said that the program is expected to stimulate economic activities in the informal sector.

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