Ravaging Hunger in the Land

Ravaging Hunger in the Land

As Nigerians groan under the excruciating effects of hunger, poverty and hopelessness, the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman of Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, have added their voices to the calls on President Bola Tinubu to urgently address the current economic challenges before the tension escalates to intractable crisis, Ejiofor Alike reports

With the increasing hardship in Nigeria, those who can no longer cope with the situation now take their lives with their own hands due to poverty, hunger and depression.

For instance, in July 2023, a 30-year-old Saifullahi Salisu of Shata, Maikunkele, in Bosso Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State, allegedly hanged himself, following his inability to settle a debt of N250,000 he owed people in the area.

Earlier in June 2023, the manager of a microfinance bank in Saki, Oke-Ogun, in Iseyin LGA of Oyo State, Sola Ogungbe, allegedly committed suicide over his inability to recover loan facilities in the state due to the economic situation in the country.

Last August, a 35-year-old man, Samaila Ilu, also hanged himself to death in Jigawa State over his difficult situation.

The state police spokesman DSP Lawan Shiisu Adam confirmed that his body was found hanging on a tree with a rope.

On January 8, 2024, an employee of a new-generation bank in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State, identified as Amarachi Ugochukwu, reportedly took her own life.

The 32-year-old was said to have made her way into a restroom in the bank in the afternoon and consumed an insecticide.

In her suicide note, she blamed economic despair for her decision to terminate her life.

Unconfirmed report also had it that a 55 -year- old father of six simply identified as Abib, a.k.a Bibson, took his own life at Ashaka area of Ibadan, in Ibadan South West LGA of Oyo State last Sunday due to hardship.

Following the widespread economic hardship, youths and women had trooped out to the streets in major cities across the country to register their grievances.

Speaking on behalf of Kano protesters in Rijiyan Lemo area of the ancient city, Malam Usman Saidu Bello said: “We, the masses, cast votes for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu; it would not be good of him not to listen to our complaints and address the poor economic situation we are facing.”

Last December, the residents of Lagos Island and traders of the popular Idumota market also expressed dissatisfaction with President Tinubu, shouting in Yoruba, “Ebi npa wa oo” meaning- we are hungry.

The traders who filed on both sides of the road as the convoy of the president passed through the market, refused to hail him but instead kept complaining of their pains believed to have been caused by his administration.

But rather than acknowledge and take responsibility for the challenges, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed that the recent protests were sponsored by the opposition parties to portray the government as “under-performing.”

However, the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had after their recent meeting called on the APC-led federal government to rise to the occasion and address the current challenges before they get out of hand.

Unfortunately, the federal government has continued to play politics with the hardship ravaging the country with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Mohammed Idris, accusing the PDP governors of playing to the gallery.

APC governors under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, had also in a statement by its Chairman and Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma, accused PDP governors of making inflammatory statements.

But the Labour Party (LP) also agreed with the PDP, insisting that the APC has ruined Nigeria’s economy.

If the federal government viewed the comments by the PDP governors and the LP as playing to the gallery because they represent the opposition parties, the administration should take the calls by the Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman of Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, very serious.

The Kano monarch recently told the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, in clear terms to convey the message of Nige­rians about the hunger and starvation in the country to President Tinu­bu, insisting that the hardship is more alarming under the Tinubu-led administration.

Emphasising the severity of the hardship faced by Nigerians, the emir who spoke in Hausa, told the First Lady, who paid him a courtesy visit that: “Although we have several means of communicating to the government on our needs and re­quest, your way and means is the surest way that you would tell the president the actual happenings in the country.

“The hunger and starvation, though didn’t start with this gov­ernment, the situation has be­come more alarming and needs urgent attention”, the Emir added.

On his part, the Sultan who spoke last Wednesday in Kaduna at the sixth Executive Committee Meeting of Northern Traditional Rulers Council, emphasised that Nigerians are deeply frustrated, hungry, and resentful, pointing out that Nigeria sits on a keg of gunpowder.

The Sultan, who was flanked at the meeting by the Emir of Kano, and the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir, said: “To make matters worse, we are faced with rising levels of poverty of most of our people – a lack of normal sources of livelihood for the common man to have even a good meal a day.

“I have said it so many times; we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, with millions of them (youths), without jobs, without food; we are looking for trouble,” the Sultan added.

Rather than reduce government’s spending on flamboyant lifestyles of political office holders, the federal government has continued to run a very expensive administration with an enlarged federal cabinet and mind-boggling sums approved for federal lawmakers for exotic vehicles, while the masses are asked to endure the economic hardship.

Many Nigerians were enraged when news broke through a leaked memo that a humongous sum of N500 million was approved by President Tinubu as the first instalment of a purported N1 billion earmarked for the inauguration of a 37-man Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage.

But rather than apologise to Nigerians for the obvious profligacy in running the administration in the face of hunger and poverty, the presidency called for a probe into the civil service structure to rid it of those it called “moles” loyal to the PDP, who it blamed for leaking classified documents.

It was not surprising when human rights lawyer, Mr.  Femi Falana (SAN), at the 18th annual memorial anniversary of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, called for a social revolution.

Falana used the occasion to reel out the wastefulness and insensitivity in the use of resources by the current administration, at a time the economy is struggling.

Will the APC-led government wait until a revolution occurs before they reduce their extravagant expenditure and fulfill their campaign promises?

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