Buhari: hunger in the land

The current harsh economic realities in Nigeria could be said to be the first of its kind since the civil war. The crude oil dependent economy has been hit severely by low oil prices cumulating into shortage of dollars and depletion of the nation’s external reserve.

The value of the naira has been affected with an alarming exchange rate of N530 to 1 US dollar early this year making it the highest in the nation’s FOREX history.

This has induced an inflationary rate of 18.72 percent according to reports from TradingEconomics.com and the National Bureau of Statistics figures for the month of January 2017.

Yesterday, there are strong indications that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would inject funds into the market this week to bring about liquidity in the interbank foreign exchange market.

According to comments made available to news sources on Sunday, the acting Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor said, the Apex Bank would sustain the injection of liquidity in the Forex market and cautioned operators in FOREX to desist from unwholesome practice that could be harmful to operations in the market.

Worst affected are the poor masses who before now have been impoverished because of mismanagement and gross acts of corrupt practices in the distribution of the nation’s wealth.

In a chat with an anonymous father of three children, in Zuba Niger State, said he resorted to selling soft drinks and bottled water to feed his family. He lamented that in his 52 years of existence, he has never seen food prices this high.

He emphasized that garri which used to be within the reach of the poor has risen to N300 per plastic in the market. In his words “Look at palm oil, which is an essential ingredient in making soup, never before was it sold for N750 per bottle. We don’t understand the relationship before between the high price of red oil and dollar. Before, we sometimes use the money we spend on red oil today to prepare soup at home” retorted.

A mother of five children who claimed anonymity was seen around Wuse market in the afternoon heat with some carrots and oranges displaced on a tray in a bid to eke-out living for her family. She decried the current harsh economic conditions and called on government to put measures in place to ameliorate the difficulties.

She said, what comes from sales could barely feed her family in view of the high inflationary rates in the country. In her comments, she revealed that conditions were compounded with the disturbance of the Federal Capital Environmental Protection Board, who constantly pursue them from the city center.

A visit to farmers’ market in Maitama shows that food prices have risen by 300 percent with a sharp decline in visitors to the market. Food sellers have also reported low sales because many customers are now making recourse to markets in the satellite towns where prices are lower and affordable.

The influx of beggars into the streets are worrisome. Some are as a result of quest to feed their families while others simply live with the acts. The former is really of concern because it is attaining alarming levels.

In a visit by our correspondent to Kuje Area Council, a man said he resorted to begging in order to feed his hungry family members because his carpentry work can’t sustain his wife and five children.  These are frequent occurrences on major streets and corners across the country. It is obvious that resources can’t meet the disproportionate levels of rising cost of living.

The working class is also lamenting the cost of living. With inflation risen to 18.77 percent, wages still remain the same for public servants.

A civil servant in Kuje, who demanded to remain anonymous said, her salary can’t sustain her four children and a jobless husband. In her words, “my monthly take home can’t sustain us for two weeks because of the astronomical rise of food prices in the market” she exclaimed!

She said the current hike of prices has necessitated the rationing of meals, while sometimes children and parents go hungry occasionally to keep pace with food stuff in the home.

The Federal Government in a swift move recently established a Tax Force to advice government on how best to control the rising food prices in the country. Many are speculating that the Buhari administration may be going back to measures adopted in the 80s when Commodity Boards were established by government to distribute basic food items directly to the populace thereby eliminating the adverse effects of middlemen in price determination.

 

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