" ITREALMS: Open Letter To President Tinubu: Acute food shortage plunges Nigerians into severe hunger by Emeka Nwokocha - ITREALMS

Monday, June 17, 2024

Open Letter To President Tinubu: Acute food shortage plunges Nigerians into severe hunger by Emeka Nwokocha - ITREALMS

Commentary@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!
In this open letter to President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Emeka Nwokocha, lamented the acute food shortage facing Nigerians with severe hunger.
Your Excellency, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, I am very worried about the current economic crisis our dear country is thrown into and the resulting acute hunger battering and killing innocent Nigerians everyday, mostly children.
Open Letter To President Tinubu: Acute food shortage plunges Nigerians into severe hunger by Emeka Nwokocha - ITREALMS
Your Excellency, since you took the reins of governance, Nigerians have not known peace, poor Nigerians gnash their teeth, many are unable to afford food as they face torture from acute hunger.

Your Excellency, recall that the troubling situation the country is going through this time is incontrovertibly caused by your hasty removal of petrol subsidy on the very day you mounted the podium to take the oath of office as the President of our "great" country. Since that faithful day, followed by the floating of Naira, the economy of the country and wellbeing of the citizens have been in serious jeopardy.

Regrettably, Your Excellency, Nigeria is currently facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with skyrocketing and biting inflation but little or no measures are being taken by you to address the unfortunate development never experienced before now in the history of our great country.

Consequently, the cries and lamentations of Nigerians over scorching pain from hunger and hardship evidently dot the nook and cranny of the country. No thanks to the increasing number of Nigerians dying everyday as a result of acute hunger, but still, you are not perturbed about their pitiable plight.

Your Excellency, I am pained to say that irrespective of whatever good you aim to achieve with your policies, the inexplicable suffering and bondage poor Nigerians are going through currently are uncalled for.

Truth is, in climes where governments are people-centric, the leaders always listen to the plight of their citizens and would remake their policies to ensure their (citizens) welfare is protected.

In other words, your adamancy towards the travails confronting poor Nigerians further erodes the trust and confidence the people repose in you.

Your Excellency, perhaps you might have forgotten, but let me remind you that the welfare and security of the people are the reason you are the President of our great country. Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended) gives credence to the above assertion.

To further emphasize the essence of government, section 16 (1b) of the constitution mandates you to control the resources of the nation in such manner as to secure maximum welfare, freedom, and happiness of every Nigerian on the basis of social justice, equality of status, and opportunity.

Your Excellency, section 16 (2d) of the constitution also directs you to ensure that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, employment and sick benefits and welfare of the people with disabilities are provided for all.

Your Excellency, having acquainted you with a few of the core responsibilities of the government to the citizens, I make bold to tell you that your policies are punitive, draconian and repugnant to the wellbeing and happiness of the the citizens.

Disappointingly, your decision to hold tenaciously to your unpopular and malevolent economic revamping policy which is causing untold hardship for Nigerians unquestionably portrays your government as lacking empathy for the citizens.

Suffice it to say, Your Excellency, that there are better economic policies your administration can bring on board to rescue the country from her present economic woes without inflicting unnecessary pain and hardship on poor Nigerians.

On that note, I wish to bring to your knowledge that India which is about 7 times the population of Nigeria had had a worse economic crisis but the governments of India, knowing that bad economic policies would increase the suffering of the already poor Indians invented better policies that prioritized the welfare of poor Indians. One of such policies was the "Public Distribution System (PDS)" which ensured that foodstuffs are distributed to every indian home at affordable price in order to reduce the scarcity of essential food items. The PDS, with other well thought out policies made huge progress in lifting 273 million Indians from acute poverty over a period of ten years (2006-2016), averaging 27.3 million people a year.

In the same vein, the strategy adopted by China to lift 850 million Chinese out of poverty within a period of 20 years (2001-2020), averaging 45 million people a year was overwhelming. In short that feat achieved by China was equated with a modern day miracle.

Your Excellency, the above references point to the fact that the current Nigerian economic situation is not insurmountable, and no Nigerian life deserves to be sacrificed for any mischievous economic revitalizing policies. Truth is, a well structured and pragmatic pro-people policy interventions are best suitable to subdue the raging economic crisis and timeously extricate the country from imminent meltdown.

Your Excellency, I wish to emphasize that you don't need rocket science to solve the seeming protracted Nigerian economic crisis. If you would be courageous to call the shots, not minding whose ox is gored, you would be able to right the many wrongs strangulating the progress of the country.

On that note, I strongly implore you to take the following drastic steps to navigate the economy of Nigeria out of doldrum:

First, declare zero tolerance on corruption and go real hard on public office holders that have stolen the country's wealth to satiate their urge for ostentatious lifestyle. Regrettably, these unregretful looters of our common patrimony happily enjoy their loots while the country bleeds to death resulting from their very wicked and unpatriotic acts.

Truth is, the chunk of Nigeria's money is in private bank accounts of these looters while the past and present governments only do a little to recover stolen wealth. There is no need chasing shadows if your government would have the political will and sincerity to recover the country's stolen wealth from fantastically corrupt and dubious politicians, public office holders, including past presidents and governors.

Second, take decisive action and stop further importation of refined petroleum products. That will be possible if you are able to fix our ailing four refineries and make local production of petroleum products a prioritized national policy. Nigeria is the world’s 9th largest crude petroleum exporting country. She does not have any reason to be entangled in petroleum products importation miasma.

Regrettably, most of the countries Nigeria go cap-in-hand to import petrol, diesel, kerosene and other refined petroleum products don't produce crude oil but only crafted the ingenuity of investing in refineries to maximize the economic opportunities in the crude oil value chain.

Painfully, the continuing importation of petroleum products is emblematic of a country whose leadership is indisputably bereft of innovative ideas and creativity to prudently manage state's economy for the betterment of the citizens.

Nigeria cannot continue to be a laughing stock among comity of nations. I charge you to beat a detour from this road to perdition our country is heading!

Third, rehabilitate the energy sector and increase production of electricity to meet the energy needs of the citizens. Nigeria, with an estimated 220 million people woefully produces less than 5000 megawatts of electricity. Truth is, if electricity supply improves tremendously, the economy of the country will experience an unprecedented boost with positive impact on the livelihood of the citizens.

Your Excellency, the only reason more than 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimentionally poor is that the predatory Nigerian governments wittingly protect looters of public funds for reasons best known to them.

Regrettably, politicians who never managed any business prior to becoming public office holders are now richer than the country. What an irony!

Most importantly, I urge you prioritize agriculture and allocate huge resources to increase food production and promote food security. As the popular saying goes "A well fed nation is a healthy nation," it is imperative your government catalyses production of foods to attenuate the current food crisis battering the country and her citizens. The less than 2 per cent budgetary allocation to agriculture in 2024 is abysmally too meagre to improve production of foods to meet the dietary needs of the people.

Your Excellency, as you may know, Niger State is almost thrice the size of the Netherlands. However, while the Netherlands maintains her position as the world’s 2nd largest exporter of food and agricultural products, Nigeria, blessed with vast arable land, disappointingly cannot feed her teeming population. "Nigeria must go to farm to feed Nigerians!"

In a nutshell, I urge you to develop the capacity to do the needful to ensure enough food is produced in our country to address the scorching hunger before the situation gets out of hand.

This call is exigent on the ground that the less than 2 per cent budgetary allocation to agriculture sector in 2024 pointedly speaks to the glaring fact that your government doesn't place priority on food production.

Your Excellency, I implore you to change this narrative. If you would heed my advice, the myriads of economic challenges besetting Nigeria will abate.

*Contributed by Emeka Nwokocha, a Warri-based journalist and social justice activist. He could be reached via: 09061792588, emenwokocha@hotmail.com | emenwokocha2@gmail.com.

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