Nigeria is on the verge of another potential mass protest on the scale of the EndSARS eruption, going by the latest prediction of Primate Elijah Ayodele, Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church.
The outspoken prophet is warning President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the uprising, pointing out that the current economic crisis in Nigeria has led to an increase in prices of essential commodities.
But, President Buhari is of the view that the significant spike in the prices of food in Nigeria is caused by middlemen who have been buying and holding essential commodities.
The president stated this during a televised broadcast to commemorate the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. His comments came as prices of major staple foods (legumes, cereals, proteins and vegetables) in Nigeria have risen at an average of about 98.85 and 99.9 per cents respectively in the last year.
“Unfortunately, as our food production capacity has increased, food prices continue going up due to shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and holding the essential commodities”, Buhari said.
Undoubtedly, Nigerians are experiencing an upsurge in the prices of their foodstuff items. The price of foodstuffs, such as garri, fish, beef, eggs, beans, and all the other popular staple, is rapidly rising as both the epidemic and flooding have exacerbated the country’s poor agricultural and farming conditions.
Though inflation is rising around the world as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, and while Western central bankers say it is only temporary, the soaring prices are having dramatic consequences in countries like Nigeria.
Sadly, this Africa’s most populous country with 230 million people is busy competing with India for the largest number of poor in the world. And, battered by the double economic impact of low global oil prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank estimates Nigeria’s soaring inflation, and food prices pushed another seven million people into poverty in 2020.
Food prices have increased more than 22 percent since the start of the coronavirus crisis, according to official statistics. For many people, therefore, feeding the family has become a daily challenge.
Even before the pandemic and the surge in food costs, Nigeria’s nutrition figures were alarming: One in three Nigerian children suffered stunted growth due to bad diet; one in 10 is wasted.
As a result, close to 17 million children in Nigeria are reportedly undernourished, giving the country the highest level of malnutrition in Africa and second highest in the world.
In Borno, Yobe and Adamawa state in the North-East, conflict is affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. 4.4 million people are facing acute hunger and 320.000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
Violence and insecurity are causing mass movements of people, with over 2 million living in camps or host communities within Nigeria and tens of thousands seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Many of those who left the country are now returning, needing food and shelter.
Joint efforts by the Nigerian government and the humanitarian community, including the World Food Programme (WFP) have managed to stabilise an extremely serious food security situation.
However, 4.4 million people are still entirely depending on food assistance and funding will continue to be needed to support immediate assistance as well as longer-term recovery and development programmes.
In the meantime, Primate Ayodele is warning of an upcoming nationwide protest due to the hike in food prices, which has affected a greater majority of the citizenry.
In a statement by his media aide, Osho Oluwatosin, the clergyman said unless the Buhari administration provides a solution to the lingering economic crisis, the protest will be severe, pointing out that the masses, the youths, women, men, and children will be part of the nationwide protest.
According to him, the hardship already being experienced will not be subsided, and unless the government does the needful, it would lead to a serious issue in the country. He then urged President Buhari to look into it as soon as possible to avert the impediment.
‘’Nigerians will protest because of the hike in food prices. There will be so much hardship which will cause the government the unexpected. The president must see into food matters otherwise Nigeria will go up in flames as a result of this.
‘’The price of things will keep increasing. Essential commodities like pepper, palm oil, and gas will keep increasing and these are what the average Nigerian use on a daily basis. The government must do something to avert this coming protest, it will involve the youths, old men and women, it will be very serious. The government needs to look into it as soon as possible’’, the cleric said.