Sultan, CAN, JNI’s Wake Up Calls on Tinubu over Growing Citizens’ Discontent

John Shiklam writes on the high cost of living, insecurity, growing discontent among  Nigerians and the wake up calls by traditional rulers and groups for urgent solutions to the problems.

Insecurity and rising cost of living are pushing Nigeria to the brink. In the past weeks, Nigerians have been agitated with the difficult state of the economy.

Many Nigerians are becoming frustrated and hopeless by the day, due to skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, essential goods and services,  insecurity and the alarming rate of unemployment among millions of youths.

A 50kg bag of rice now cost about N80, 000. Prices of other staples such as beans, garri, maize, millet, etc, have also skyrocketed, beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians.

Government’s minimum wage is N30,000

Cost of transportation is high. Electricity supply is epileptic, leading  to the collapse of many small businesses.

The continuous fall of the naira to the dollar has drastically weakened the purchasing power of the masses.

The growing rate of unemployment among millions of Nigerian youths is alarming and is a threat to peace and security.

Many parents cannot afford to sponsor their children to school, not to talk of the exorbitant cost of health care services.

The situation is further worsened by wide spread insecurity accross the country occasioned by invasion of communities, killings, kidnapping for ransom and destruction of property by rampaging bandits almost on a daily basis.

Many farmers, especially, in the north can no longer go to farm for fear of bandits. Travelling on highways have become dangerous because of the activities of bandits.

Worst hit by the activities of bandits and kidnappers are Zamfara, Plateau, Taraba and Niger states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the nation’s seat of power, where the headquarters of all the security agencies are located.

Nigerians have been finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

There had been protests in some  parts of the country over high cost of living and insecurity with citizens in Niger, Kano, Kogi, Ondo, Osun states  and other states demanding solutions to the problems.

Market women in Lagos also protested  over the same issues, calling on President Bola Tinubu, to urgently do something about the situation or face an uprising.

Prominent Nigerians and groups have expressed concern about growing discontent among Nigerians, urging the federal government to take urgent steps to ameliorate the situation before the country explodes.

A prominent traditional and religious leader, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, at a meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council (NTRC), last Wednesday in Kaduna, declared that with the millions of unemployed youths, without jobs and food, Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

Before the Sultan spoke, the Emir of Kano Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, had sent a message to Tinubu through his wife that Nigerians are  suffering.

The Emir asked the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who  visited him in his palace in Kano to tell her husband that Nigerians are suffering due to the economic hardship in the country.

The First Lady, was in Kano to inaugurate a building named after her at the Faculty of Law, Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, (MAAUN) in Kano.

Bayero told the First Lady: “Although, we have several means of communicating to the government on our needs and requests, you are the surest way to tell the President the happenings in the country.

“We get information daily that essential commodities and cost of living are high and people are suffering, although it didn’t start with this government.

“We know the government is making efforts but it should redouble efforts to ease the suffering faced by the people.

“The issue of insecurity is another serious problem we are facing. I know your government inherited it but something more seriously should be done to take care of the threats.

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

Also governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) compared Nigeria’s economic situation to that of Venezuela, a South American country bedeviled by escalating starvation, disease, crime, and high mortality rates.

In his address at the 6th Executive Council meeting of the NTRC, the Sultan said things are not working well in Nigeria, especially in the northern region.

Abubakar who is the chairman of the NTRC said insecurity and poverty are the two major issues that have been causing trouble in the  north.

He lamented that Nigerians are deeply frustrated, hungry, and resentful about the current economic situation.

The Sultan said traditional rulers, have been talking to the  people, calming them and assuring them that things will improve.

He however said, there is a limit to which the people will listen to the monarchs if the situation does not improve.

He recalled that the NTRC has had several meetings with the northern governors to discuss issues affecting the people of the north, but the problems have persisted.

He said, “We have had such meetings before with the Northern Governors, so many times at Kashim Ibrahim House. We have now entered into a new cycle of leadership, some new governors have come on board, while some are having their second term and still we are faced with these insecurity issues.

“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.

“But, I believe talking about insecurity and the rising level of poverty are two issues that we cannot fold our arms and think everything is okay.

“I have said it so many times and at so many fora that, things are not okay in Nigeria and of course, things are not okay in the North”, the Sultan said.

He said the current issues bedeviling the country is a continuation from the immediate past administration.

“I don’t think it is the issue of the new government. To me, this government is a continuation of the former government; it is the same party. So, what really is the problem? I think that is one of the reasons we are here to talk to ourselves”.

Speaking further, Abubakar said traditional rulers owe it a duty to the millions of people that believe in the traditional institution, to bring solutions to the various problems facing the country , assuring that monarchs will  not fail in doing that.

“I have said so many times, that we never lack a solution to our problems, what we lack is implementation, because we meet today, we bring out so many beautiful ideas on how to solve our problems, and we go back to our various places and go to bed, leaving such solutions here in this conference hall. So, how do we implement them?”, the Sultan wondered.

He said Nigerians should not be taken for granted because they are keeping quiet.

According to him,  Nigerians are quiet because “we have been talking to them, we have been trying to tell them things will be okay and they keep on believing.”

“I pray to Almighty Allah that they will not one day wake up and say we no longer believe in you. Because that would be the biggest problem; we can’t quieten these people as traditional, spiritual leaders and diplomats forever”, he said.

According to him, “We have reached that level, people are very agitated, people are hungry, they are angry, but they still believe there are people who can talk to them, they believe in some of their governors, some other traditional rulers, and some of their religious leaders, fortunately, some of us double as traditional and religious leaders.”

He said, traditional rulers, “have this onerous task of reaching out to everybody, calming them down, and assuring them things will be okay, and they should continue to pray and pray and still do something good because prayer without work will not bring anything.”

The monarch called on government to create jobs for “our teeming youths that are sitting idle and I have said it so many times, we sit on a keg of gunpowder, having teeming youths millions of them, without jobs, without food, we are looking for trouble.”

He added that if traditional rulers are empowered by the constitution like governors and funded, they will contribute a lot in addressing some of the challenges facing the country.

He however said  traditional rulers are ready to work wit governors, “because we believe in them, we believe in what they are doing, and must work with them and if the governors too want to have peace and stability in their states, they must work with the traditional leaders.”

Groups like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province (IEP), had earlier cried out over  the difficult times Nigerians are going through.

The Northern CAN, had in a statement issued in Kaduna by its Secretary General, Elder Sunday Oibe, said the suffering in the country is becoming unbearable for masses.

Oibe said, “High cost of foodstuffs, transportation, goods and services have made life difficult in Nigeria.

He said, “The epileptic power supply has led to the collapse of many small businesses. 

“The continued decline in the value of the naira and the seeming inability of the government to address the situation has completely weakened the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians. The situation is further compounded by escalating insecurity occasioned by rampant killings and kidnapping for ransom”.

The Christian body, therefore, called on government to “take urgent steps to address the depressing economic and escalating security situation in the country.”

Northern CAN also noted the rampaging activities of bandits in Plateau, Zamfara states and other parts of the country, where many people were killed and several houses burnt.

“The government must do everything possible to stop the killings not only in Plateau, but across the country.

“These killings have continued because the perpetrators have never been brought to justice. We have continued to wonder why government has not been able to hold anybody accountable for the mass killings going on in the country.

“Unless justice is done, by ensuring that the perpetrators and whoever are the sponsors are brought to book, all the talks about peace may be a mere rhetorics.

“We advised that the security architecture be reviewed for effective and decisive action.

We called on government at all levels to support our security agencies with all that is required to fight these criminals”.

The statement, however, called on Nigerians to support the present administration to overcome the eight years of calamity and retrogression of the failed administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The statement called on  President  Tinubu, to settle down and squarely tackle these challenges so that Nigeria will bounce back.

On its part, the JNI which is also headed by the Sultan of Sokoto urged the federal government to urgently intervene  in the difficult economic situation to bring succour to Nigerians.

Also in a statement, the muslim body lamented the situation of things and asked the government to intervene before the situation get worse.

“The JNI under the leadership of His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, with all sense of responsibility calls on the federal government of Nigeria to urgently intervene over the difficulties Nigerians are passing through”, the statement signed by Prof. Khalid Aliyu, reads.

“This call is made over the exhilarating pains citizens are airing in both print and electronic media, inclusive of the social media, wherein Minna, Niger State and Lokoja, Kogi state protests and other dissenting concerns are being raised.”

Aliyu said, “In light of the troubling impact of hoarding and inflation on the availability and affordability of essential goods and services, particularly food items, the JNI is therefore compelled to raise its voice on the matter.

“We have been inundated with reports and pleas from ordinary Nigerians, expressing their anguish over the soaring prices of basic necessities. We urgently call on the federal and state governments to intervene before the situation worsens.

“This call has become necessary such that citizens would not be further provoked. Government functionaries are also cautioned to choose their words very well while addressing citizens on the matter.

“More so, the impending Ramadan fast heightens the urgency of our call, as access to three square meals becomes a luxury for many households.

The JNI appealed to the business community to resist the temptation of hoarding for selfish gains and make essential commodities more affordable, by lowering prices, so as to serve as an act of charity.

In order to address the challenges and avert the growing discontent, President Tinubu, last Thursday, met with governors of the 36 states of the federal to chart the way forward out of the problems.

In a statement shared on his verified X handle, the President assured that his administration is determined to evolve home-grown solutions to tackle the nation’s food security challenges head-on “including setting up schemes to bolster local food production and cut out all forms of rent-seeking tied to food importation.”

“I reiterated this commitment during my emergency meeting today at the State House, with all 36 state governors, the Vice-President, Kashim Shettima, the National Security Adviser, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the DSS, and some ministers”, the President said.

On addressing the security situation, Tinubu said a committee made up of state governors and representatives of the federal government to explore the possibility of the establishing state police. 

“I have approved the creation of a committee that includes state governors and federal government representatives to explore, among other things, the possibility of establishing state police.

“I have also endorsed the training and equipping of forest rangers by sub-national governments to protect human and natural resources in our communities.

“My stance is unequivocal: we must move aggressively to examine the issues raised, including the potential for establishing state police”, the President said.

He said further that, “Following reports out of Kano and other areas about large-scale hoarding of food in some warehouses, I have instructed the National Security Adviser, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services to coordinate closely to ensure that security agencies in the states inspect such warehouses and take follow-up action.

“We cannot allow speculators, hoarders, and rent seekers to undermine our efforts in ensuring that food is widely available to all Nigerians.

Tinubu said he will not establish a price control board, nor approve the importation of food.

“We must extricate ourselves from this predicament because importation only enables rent seekers to perpetrate fraud and mismanagement at our collective expense”, the President said.

He added that farmers will be supported through schemes that encourages cultivation of more food for the nation.

“We must also rapidly but thoughtfully implement our livestock development and management plans, including dairy farming and others.

The President urged governors to trust the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the management of the  nation’s monetary policy, and emphasized the need for designated institutions to effectively fulfill their mandate.

Tinubu said “The ‘cacophony of postulations’  on the fluctuation of foreign exchange rates is adversely affecting the market.”

He said, “Not everyone can be an expert. If we have assigned someone a task, we must allow them to perform it.

“If they fail, then we must find a way to quickly remove them from the system.”

The President also urged  governors to always prioritize the welfare and prosperity of the people in their development programmes.

He assured that the federal government will continue to work diligently to improve the nation’s revenue profile.

He said, “As leaders, we must all work together to address issues of insecurity, food security, and out-of-school children.”

Nigerians cannot wait for the immediate implementation of the policies as they struggle for survival.

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