Abeni Aso-Oke

Nigeria’s Silent Crisis: The Urgent Call for Action on Food Availability. By Chidi Ekeh

Abeni Aso-Oke

In the heart of Nigeria, a silence has settled like a heavy fog. It’s a silence that echoes through the barren fields and the empty stomachs of millions. It’s a silence that speaks volumes about the state of our nation, a silence that demands our attention and our outrage. This silence is the Nigerian government’s response, or rather, the lack thereof, to the growing food crisis that is gripping our nation.

As we stand at the crossroads of this silent crisis, it is imperative that we raise our voices and condemn the government’s continued silence on the issue of food availability. We cannot, and we must not, allow this silence to persist, for it threatens not only our alimentary well-being but also our national security and economic growth.

Abeni Aso-Oke

The recent declaration of a state of emergency on food security by President Bola Tinubu was a glimmer of hope in these dark times. However, hope alone will not fill the bellies of hungry Nigerians, nor will it address the root causes of this crisis. The government’s silence since that declaration has been deafening, leaving us in a state of uncertainty and despair.

Let us be clear; the food crisis in Nigeria is not a mere inconvenience; it is a catastrophe of epic proportions. The persistent violence in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, coupled with armed banditry and kidnapping, has left over 25 million Nigerians at high risk of food insecurity in 2023. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart of our nation, threatening the well-being of our citizens and the stability of our society.

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In the face of this crisis, the government’s silence is not only unacceptable but also dangerous. It is a silence that exposes the lack of a clear path out of this malaise, a silence that betrays the absence of a comprehensive plan to tackle the root causes of food insecurity, such as conflict and poverty.

The Nigerian government must recognize the gravity of the situation and understand that silence in the face of a crisis is not an option. We call upon the presidency and the ministry of agriculture to break this silence and take decisive action to address the food crisis that is plaguing our nation.

But what, you may ask, can the government do to address this crisis? The answer lies in a clear path forward, a path that begins with a commitment to food surplus and cascades into a multitude of positive effects that reach far beyond mere alimentary issues.

Firstly, the government must prioritize increased spending on agriculture. Nigeria is blessed with fertile land and a climate that is conducive to agriculture. It is time to harness these natural resources to their full potential. Increased government spending on agriculture will not only boost agricultural production but also create jobs in the sector, providing employment opportunities for millions of Nigerians.

Let us draw inspiration from our own local proverbs that remind us of the importance of nurturing our land: “A farmer who sows good seeds reaps a bountiful harvest.” It is time for our government to sow the seeds of agricultural prosperity for our nation.

Secondly, the government’s intervention can help stabilize food prices, thereby reducing inflation and making food more affordable for Nigerians. We are all too familiar with the skyrocketing prices of staple food items like eggs, bread, evaporated milk, palm oil, and plantain. These price hikes have pushed many families to the brink of despair. It is time for the government to step in and ensure that every Nigerian can access affordable food.

In our local marketplaces, we often hear the saying, “When the price of the market is right, everyone can eat.” It is time for the government to make the market right for all Nigerians.

However, we must also acknowledge the potential negative effects of a state of emergency on food security. Increased government borrowing to fund these initiatives could lead to a heavier national debt burden. The government’s intervention might distort market forces, leading to inefficiencies in the agricultural sector. There’s also the risk of increased corruption as government officials handle the funds meant for food security.

These challenges are real, but they should not deter us from taking action. Instead, they should serve as reminders that the government’s response must be transparent, accountable, and guided by the principles of good governance. We cannot allow the fear of potential pitfalls to paralyze us into inaction when the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerians are at stake.

To address these concerns, the government must work closely with humanitarian organizations and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan to tackle the food crisis. This plan should include measures to address the root causes of hunger, such as conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, and infrastructure development in rural areas.

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In this case, it takes a nation, working together with local and international partners, to overcome the food crisis that threatens our very existence.

In conclusion, the government’s silence in the wake of the food crisis is not only deafening but also dangerous. It is a silence that must be broken, and it is a silence that demands action. We call upon President Bola Tinubu and the ministry of agriculture to wake up and do the needful.

Let us remember the words of our own Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka: “A tiger does not proclaim its tigritude; it pounces.” It is time for our government to pounce on this crisis with all the strength and determination at its disposal. The path to food surplus is clear, and the cascading effects of such a surplus will not only fill our bellies but also secure our nation and fuel our economic growth.

The time for action is now. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Our nation’s future depends on it, and the hungry stomachs of our people cry out for it. Nigeria, it’s time to rise and conquer the silence that threatens to engulf us.

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