Food crisis: Senate predicts imminent nationwide protests

•Says food reserves empty

From Fred Itua, Abuja

The Senate has warned of imminent nationwide protests by Nigerians except the Federal Government immediately moves to address the acute food crisis in the country.

It also revealed that the various Federal Government-owned food reserves across the country were empty, warning that Nigerians could no longer bear the acute hunger.

The issues were raised when the Senate considered a motion tagged: “Urgent need to address food insecurity and market exploitation of consumables in Nigeria,” co-sponsored by Mohammed Ali Ndume.

Ndume in his argument, said beside Sudan, “in the North, we have started seeing hunger. People can’t go to the farm. Even in the South East and South West, there are farmers and herders crises.

“Prices of basic food items are high. We need to do something or say something as representatives of the people. This is the first time Nigeria is being included among nations that will face a food crisis.”

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio said there was serious scarcity of food in the country. He said the observation that Nigeria is among the countries that will face a serious food crisis is true. I think the government should do something about it.

Idris Wadada from Nasarawa State said the issue at hand was a serious matter.  “Nigerians are very patient, and no people can be that much patient under hunger. As much as we are much aware of the factors responsible, we should as well make recommendations to the government of the day.

“As representatives of the people, we are responsible and responsive. We are all leaders and critical stakeholders in this country. Whatever we need to do, we must know at all times that we add value to the efforts put in place to eliminate if not reduce the factors responsible for low levels of food production in the country.”

Immediate-past President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his argument, said the patience and tolerance of Nigerians are elastic, but not eternal. “Our people are facing real hunger.

“I saw people, common people, suffering, struggling for food and eating once in a day. Under normal circumstances, in the rainy season, prices escalate. Now, we don’t even have. Now, the government of the day is saying it wants to remove taxes on food items. This Senate must engage the government. What are the issues? We don’t have food reserves.

“The silos are empty. To import, we need forex. We have to engage the administration of Mr. President. We are the most vulnerable, including members of the House of Representatives.

“If we don’t take action, our citizens, under increased fuel prices, electricity, including food, we won’t like the kind of things we will see in our streets. We must take the right action to ensure that there is food. We can’t take the people for granted for too long.”

He added: “We must find every means to get to the farm. Nigerians must eat. The primary function of government is the welfare and security of its citizens.”

Adamu Aliero from Kebbi State, also raised the alarm that fertilisers earmarked for lawmakers for onward delivery to their constituents were being given to state governors.

“There is the need for you (Akpabio) to intervene so that the senatorial districts get it. It will be useless after this month.”

Salihu Mustapha from Kwara State assured that by weekend, all senatorial districts will get trucks of fertilisers.

Akpabio, in his concluding remarks, said if the issues raised were not addressed by next week, the Senate might be compelled to summon the ministers of Finance and Agriculture. He assured that every senator would get two trucks of fertilisers before next Tuesday while members of the House of Representatives would get one each.

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