Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
With acute hunger presently ravaging the North-east part of the country due to Boko Haram insurgency as well as the growing poverty rate, a former Commissioner for Health in Rivers State, Dr. Samson Parker, has called on all tiers of government to rise up to the challenge by ensuring that people have access to food and water.
Parker disclosed this in Abuja at his induction as a Fellow of African Institute of Public Health Professionals, where he stated that hunger crisis had got to its peak that what government should be urgently working on was ensuring people in the country have access to food and water.
According to him, “this thing that is happening is biting everybody, it doesn’t know religion, it doesn’t know political party. You think APC is in government, but the APC people are hungry too, the PDP people are hungry. The Young Democratic Party and other members of other parties are hungry; non-party members are hungry. Any person that says no that it is not like that, let him prove me wrong. Just look at the cost of foodstuff in the market.”
He stated: “Right now, our people are just looking for food and water. That is what every Nigerian needs, food and water. Government should concentrate on food and water. Let us create job, particularly in the area of agriculture, so that the jobs will feed the country.
“We are going to a stage where people may begin to eat themselves, it has started already. For Nigerians to begin to eat themselves, it has started,” he added.
Parker opined that proceeds from anti-corruption war which the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration prides itself over have in no way benefitted the citizenry, and that government should re-strategise and provide palliatives that would alleviate sufferings in the country.
“I have been trying to avoid making comments on anti-corruption. Yes, nobody wants any other person to steal our commonwealth and run away with it, but at the time we are now, we must re-strategise our anti-corruption fight to the benefit of the people.
“Right now, I am a medical person. We have to get in specialists just the way the government put together the health team when the Ebola virus got into the country. They have to put their strategies together. This is the time to think deeply and bring in specialists from all works of life, not dividing along religious, political or tribal line. This is Nigeria; we don’t have any other country like Nigeria. We must make things right for our children and our posterity in Nigeria.
“You and I know that one year after the anti-corruption war, we have not really felt the impact of what we have gotten back from the anti-corruption fight. We have not, let the truth be told. So, we need to re-strategise; what have we done well? What have we not done well? How do we move? Are there things we are doing that we are not doing well? They know best. We should open the market up locally. Nobody pursues a rat in the house when the house is getting burnt. If we continue this way, we may not have a country again,” Parker noted.
Parker further stressed that government should engage experts as it did during the Ebola days to help proffer ways to boosting the nation’s economy and consequently improve living condition of people in the nation; noting “if urgent measures are not taken to redress the situation, the nation may cease to exist as a result of hunger.”
Continuing he said, “today, you know we are facing even a greater scourge than the Ebola scourge. The scourge of hunger is staring at us in the face. It is a time again for Nigerians to rise up with one voice, with one might. No matter which part of the divide we belong to in religion or politics. We are now faced with another scourge, probably more than the Ebola scourge.”