A COUNTRY STRUGGLING TO FEED ITSELF
If the question whether Nigerians live in poverty is posed to the world and answers requested, of course beginning from Nigerians themselves, answers will vary as sharply as opinions will be divided.
Some would be overwhelmingly positive that poverty is a harrowing feature of daily life in the country. On another hand will be the international community featuring international organizations which would wield data to show that too many Nigerians are too poor for comfort. By the World Bank`s estimates,91 million Nigerians languish below the poverty line. Nigeria`s population is projected to hit 216 million by November 2022. A simple arithmetic would yield figures to support those who argue that the Giant of Africa shockingly remains one of the world`s poverty capitals.
But there would still be those who argue on the side of the government that millions of Nigerians have been lifted out of poverty in the last couple of years.
But what is the reality on ground? In August 2022, inflation in Nigeria hit a record 17-year-high. That invariably translates to countless tables emptied of food. That is countless families who can no longer afford food. That is poverty walking in figures. It is an extremely difficult situation indeed.
As the many formidable challenges confronting Nigeria as a country continue to rear their ugly heads, the standard of living in the country, and the quality of life continues to take decline steeply, forming the stuff of many a Nigerian nightmare.
The symbiosis between insecurity and poverty in the country has left many Nigerians gasping for breath. Hunger has merged as a harrowing reality as conflicts manifesting in different forms collude to conjure up some of Nigeria`s worst nightmares.
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector recently disclosed that 84 per cent of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet or three-square meals a day. The stakeholders attributed this to insecurity, climate change, micro economic challenges, and the recent Ukraine-Russia war. The stakeholders spoke at the a conference tagged‘Sahel Food Systems Changemakers’ with the theme ‘ Curbing the Nigerian Food Crisis: Ensuring resilience and Sustainability in the Agribusiness Landscape.’
The conference which brought some much-needed attention to the hunger rippling through the Giant of Africa as the country struggles to feed itself harped on the need to address insecurity which has contributed about 30 to 40 percent of the hunger witnessed in the country, and the need to use technology to transform Nigeria`s food landscape.
On January 27, 2022, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organization had in a report highlighted about 20 hunger hotspots around the world. According to the report, conflict, economic shocks, natural hazards, political instability, and limited humanitarian access had put millions of lives at risk. The situation in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria were especially made out to be dire.
Perhaps, the most telling sign of Nigeria`s decline as a country is that there is hardly a grim report across the globe that does not include Nigeria. Whether it is the list of the most terrorized countries on earth, or in the chronicle of the most dangerous countries for Christians in the world, or in the company of the world`s poorest countries, Nigeria features heavily.
Why would Nigerians not struggle to feed themselves? In many communities in the North-east and North-west of the country where farming is the air they breathe, ruthless bandits have rendered farms inaccessible.
With everything Nigerians have been put through in the last couple of years, the remarkable resilience the country and its citizens have shown reflects a quiet strength and dignity that are uniquely Nigerian.