Surviving in Nigeria is now a herculean task. Poverty continues to spiral and hunger and general hardship are gaining geographical spread in exponential proportion and something urgent needs to be done to arrest this development. To say Nigerians are hungry would amount to stating the obvious. The prices of items in the market are permanently sky-bound.
To tackle these seemingly insurmountable hiccups would call for a multi-pronged approach where all hands must be on deck because to juxtapose excruciating hunger with the alarming rate of idle hands and jobless Nigerians, especially the restless youths, would lead to outcomes unimaginable.
Recently, two women were lamenting the rising cost of living and the difficulty they go through to put food on the table for their families. These women both have jobs; one of them a civilian, and the other a naval personnel. With so much anguish on their faces, they lamented that it had become difficult for them to buy foodstuffs like yam, tomatoes, rice, plantain etc. What actually interested me was the expression of despondency on the faces of these women and one cannot but wonder if those with jobs are lamenting this way, then what is the fate of those without jobs at a time like this.
For many years, farmers in the north and later down south have been complaining of their inability to access their farms; many are not alive to tell their stories. Some lost their limbs and many others have simply abandoned their farms for fear of being attacked. And for so long we played politics with what is clearly an existential threat.
While all of these played out, President Muhammadu Buhari simply refused to act. He refused to be decisive in dealing with the challenges facing those farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and other states in the North Central as well as curtailing the threat facing farmers in the North West and North East.
He looked the other way and sometimes put up explanations that only exposed him and his cabinet as being sentimental and sympathetic with the aggressors. In Benue while the people cried of being attacked by Fulani herders, the presidency simply explained it away as clashes between farmers and herders. Pray, which man in his right senses can with a cutlass attack another with an AK-47?
All the presidency could do was rebuke the farmers for not being accommodating enough of their aggressors. They admonished them to learn to be more accommodating and that was the end of the story. As we speak nothing, in concrete terms, was done to check the marauding Fulani herders in those areas and many of the farmers have since taken refuge elsewhere for safety.
Similarly, North West and North East have been plagued with security problems of banditry which has remained on a steady increase and Boko Haram’s insurgency. The way it appears, insurgency and banditry will remain with us forever like malaria.
Banditry in the northwestern states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina has reached alarming heights in recent years. Bandits terrorise villages with impunity. They have actually settled in Zamfara State, setting up fortified enclaves in the hinterland and on the frontiers, from where they plot and carry out their operations. Kaduna remains a huge killing field as bandits have virtually chased residents away from their rural dwellings.
Some of these bandits in Kaduna are so audacious that they even write communities prior to their attacks and successfully carry out the attacks with no resistance. To think that Kaduna remains the state with the highest rate of military formations and security operatives makes you wonder if there can ever be an end to this.
Added to this also, is the thriving kidnapping cases which has made travelling by road for everybody a nightmare. Traders are afraid to use the road while schooling in Kaduna, for instance, is practically in abeyance as virtually all schools have been closed.
Yet, in the midst of these our political leaders are still wondering why the prices of foods are hitting the roofs and why inflation has attained a monstrous status. As it is, and for all practical intents and purposes the nation is sitting on a time bomb which can explode any time without notice.
It is heart-warming to note that President Buhari is also worried by this development and has expressed desire to address the situation. However, it appears that the president is also not situating the problem appropriately and is also not showing enough commitment to arrest the dangerous development.
For instance, while I agree with him citing the prevalence of excessive flooding, insecurity and unscrupulous practices of food products’ middlemen as some of the reasons for the current high cost of food commodities in the market, I think that all these can be placed on the door of his administration’s misplacement of priority and glaring lack of will power to crackdown on all those who have rendered the nation unsafe for all law-abiding citizens.
Buhari during his Sallah message to Nigerian Muslims, to mark this year’s Eid-El-Kabir celebration, appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the administration, assuring that the government was already working on easing the tension caused by some of the mentioned factors.
The President stated: “COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economies of all countries, including Nigeria, in addition to the fact that floods have caused large scale destruction to agricultural farmlands, thereby impacting negatively on our efforts to boost local production in line with our policy to drastically reduce food importation.
“No government in our recent history has invested as heavily as we are doing to promote local production of about 20 other commodities, through the provision of loans and several other forms of support to our farmers.”
The president should spare us all of the rhetoric as he is beginning to sound like a broken record. There is nothing unusual about the flood now than experienced in the past. Also, I hope President Buhari is aware that many of these loan beneficiaries can’t repay those loans because they have lost all their investments to bandits, insurgents and killer-herders? The federal government should know that the security challenge confronting the nation is the major cause of the hunger that we face.
Fighting hunger is of greater importance than the federal government search for protesters, political agitators etc. As it is the government has hunted and arrested Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, but has done very little to also clampdown on those chasing our farmers and law-abiding herders from their farms. The very same measure with which the federal government hunted Igboho and Kanu should also be channeled to arrest many of these bandits whose identities are known to the public.
Perhaps, the recent escape from the den of some bandits in Kaduna by two young students is a pointer to the fact that the government is doing very little to comprehensively go after those making life difficult for us. Those AK 47-wielding herders, bandits and Boko Haram insurgents are of greater threat to food security than Igboho and Kanu put together.
The two students of the Bethel Baptist School escaped from their kidnappers’ den in Kaduna. The students; Emmanuel Mangwai, 20yrs and Mathias Mangwai, 16yrs are brothers.
They said that on Tuesday 20th July, 2021 at about 1800hrs they were tasked by their captors to go and fetch firewood from the nearby forest where they were held hostage. They, however, decided to take the opportunity of not being monitored and escaped to the Rijana community along Kaduna-Abuja highway.
Meanwhile, over a hundred others are still being held captive in the so-called forest from where these brave boys escaped, yet our security personnel cannot detect their location. Sheik Abubakar Gumi and some governors, especially from the North West, have been discussing with these bandits and paying ransom to no effect while their locations remain mysterious to the government.
How can Kanu and Igboho be hunted down in Kenya and Benin Republic respectively, and the same government can’t see the wisdom in seeking international collaboration to comb those so-called forests to clampdown on bandits and insurgents who, only last week, went a step further by shooting down our military fighter jet on the border town between Kaduna and Zamfara?
A real threat of starvation is facing this country and it requires concerted efforts devoid of nepotism, tribalism or favouritism of any kind to bring it to a halt. The FG should stop heating up the polity with political persecutions and face the real threats confronting us.
What this government has inadvertently done chasing Kanu and Igboho is making heroes out of them. Chasing Igboho and Kanu while placating bandits, killer-herders and insurgents, through a suspicious deradicalisation scheme, is tantamount to Nero fiddling while Rome burnt. It is a case of misplaced priorities.