Special Report : Economic Hardships, Nigerians Losing Patience

By Suleiman Umaru and Lateef Adegbite

When President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state repeatedly said that it is his turn to rule Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation after backing former President Muhammadu Buhari, his  to rule Nigeria for eight years, described as years of economic disaster, many believe that he has something to offer based on his ‘’political  experience’’.

Barely seven months on the saddle, nothing appears to be working well in the country as life has become more miserable for the people, worse than the eight years of Buhari’s. Administration.  Many believe that he got it wrong when he assured Nigerians that he will‘’ build on the legacy of the former Katsina state born Nigerian President if elected as the next President in the February 25, 2023, election’’. This may have informed why Buhari took his political weight on him to win the country’s 2023, Presidential election.

True to his words, he may have prepared mindset of the citizen of the country for severe hardship where prices of goods and services including pharmaceutical products   would no longer be controlled as obtained in the south American country of Venezuela, where is significant economic decline, and acute shortage of vital resources such as foodstuffs pharmaceutical products, and other necessities    due to bad economic policies forcing Nigerian to leave the country in their hundreds to Gha, Cotede’Ivoire and other countries in the West African sub-region, including  Europe, United Kingdom, UK, United States of America, USA, and Canada in search of greener pastures.

  The former Lagos state governor had removed Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, subsidy barely 24 hours of assumption of office without plans to cushion the impacts of the policy statement.

 He did not stop. He had also unified the country’s Autonomous and Parallel, popular Black market, foreign exchange rate, by floating the naira, which was said to have triggered  a hike  in the cost  living  and tripled  the price  of rice and other commodities  including locally produced items like rice, beans, onions  tomatoes and yam, vegetable and consumable  items ,     

 the National Bureau of Statistics , NBS,  under the close watch of Semiu Adeyemi, in its  latest Consumer Price Index report  , CPI,   shows that the nation’s  inflation rate  has hit the 20.90% bracket. The NBS, may have shocked unhappy Nigerians when it stated ‘’the rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis during the Buhari’s Administration, particular, prices of bread, and Cereals, potatoes, yam and other tubers, oil and fiat, fish, meat, fruit, beans and rice, both local and foreign including cocoa and other consumables was instrumental for the high cost of living in the country.

Bisis Akande: former governor of Ogun state, Buhari refused to emove fuel subsidy due to perceived backlash effect

An aggrieved Bisi Akande , a-one time governor of Ogun state who is not happy over what is happening in the country since Tinubu took over on May 29, 2023 , had said that there was no basis for the hardship behav people are going through now if Tinubu had taken a second look at his decisions.

The former Oogun sate governor had said that the immediate pat Nigerian President had the intention in 2015, during his first term in office of removing petrol subsidy but withdrew his plan at the last minute out of fear of the backlash and criticisms from Nigerians. He noted that signs that Buhari do not have the courage to remove the petrol subsidy became manifest when he started being careful, slowing down until his eight year in office ended.

He averred that if the former President had removed the fuel subsidy as promised, Nigerians would have become accustomed to the consequences of the Buhari bold economic decision but failed to do so, leaving it for the Thimbu’s Administration.

Given the hunger in the Land may have informed why some state governors, particular in the north have taken the bold initiative to protect their state economy and feed their people. Take for instance, Mohammed Bago, governor of Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President, who s not happy over the high level of poverty insecurity and hardship in the north central state was sale to have banned the sale and distribution of food items and farm produce in bulk to other states of the Federation till further notice.

Gov. Bago banned food stuffs from being taken from Niger state to other states of the Federation to meet state demand

The  aggrieved Niger state governor who could not hide his feelings had said that  the sale  of food items in bulk  from the state to other states of the Federation including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT,  has resulted  in the scarcity and food starvation  within the state .

He may have taken the bold initiative to draw the attention of Tinubu to the suffering of his people and why something urgent needed to be done to address the increasing prices of food stuff because the situation gets out of hand.

Abba Kabir Yusuf,  Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso,  political ally, and New Nigeria People’s Party,  NNPP, governor of north western state  of Kano,  may not have followed the foot step of  Bago, the governor of Niger state but had identified hoarding of food stuff by big -time traders   in their warehouses  for their own pecuniary gains .

This may have informed why the state Public Complaint and Anti-corruption Commission, PCACC, at the instance of the governor who is worried over the hardship people are going through I the state to clamp down  on suspected warehouse  and stores engaged  in hoarding foodstuff across the state and auction it to the people.

Muhuyi Rimingado, a Lawyer and Chairman of PCACC, in Kano state may have sent a message to the food stuff hoarders  that it is not no going to be  business as usual for them people of the state. in making huge profits by increasing prices at will as the Commission  was said  to have set up  an intelligence  mechanism  and launched  a manhunt  on the food stuff hoarder  who had imposed  untold hardship  on the  people of the state.  ‘’We will not allow hoarding f food stuff in state’’, the Kano state PCACC,  Chairma had declar

How Kano rice merchants hoarded rice and other foodstuffs in warehouses

 True to his words,  the Commission  ha confiscate  10 warehouses  containing rice, both foreign and locally and foreign produced parboiled  and  other assorted food items  in the Dawanau  area of Dawakin Tofa  Local Government Area of the state, forcing hoarders in  the Dawanau  International  Grains market , Singer market and Kwari Textiles Market to put their warehouses and stores under lock and key .

An eyewitness account disclosed that the PCACC raid of the suspected warehouses and stores, across the state, had exposed  the wickedness of traders who have taken  advantage of  the country’s economic mess  to stack  their warehouses and stores  with basic commodities  ranging  from   rice, beans,  from  spaghetti,  pasta,  sugar and other food items that are in high demand in the state and its environs.

Worried that his popularity with Nigerians is gradually going down due to the rising cost of food stuffs and the resultant hardship across the 6 states of the Federation and the FCT, may have encouraged Tinubu, who is no longer  finding it funny,  to give a matching order to Nuhu Ribadu, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, rtd, and a-one time  former Executive Chairman of the Economic and Fnancial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  and now National Security Adviser, NSA,  Kode Egbetokun, Inspector General of Police, IGP,  and Yusuf Magaji Bichi, Director General, Department of State Service, DSS,  to work  with the state governors  and minister of the FCT, and go after those hoarding food stuff.

Mohammed Idris, minister of Information and National Orientation, may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President   when said the nation requires food to be brought out to the people to control the prices and put food on the table of Nigerians.

The worry of many was that  the Nigerian government efforts  to stabilize  food prices across the country, , particular, rice, in the country’s markets , the northern rice merchants who appears determined to see Tinubu’s Administration fail to give the impression that Buhari’s eight years rule was lie Christmas for Nigerians are reportedly  involved in extensive  exportation  to neighbouring Niger Republic because of  the favourable exchange rate of the CFA, to the naira at the country’s Autonomous Foreign exchange market.  At present, N2,200.00 exchanges for the CFA 1000, meaning that  one CFA exchanges   for N2020.00.

Abubakar Kyari, minister of Agriculture , Food and Security,  had said that the strengthening of the CFA  currency  used by the West African French speaking countries  of Cote deIvoire, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Benin Republic,  relative to the naira, may have informed  why citizens of these member countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, regional bloc,  come to Nigeria  to buy foodstuff  at a relatively cheap  price. A Bureau de Change operator who spoke to the online Magazine on condition of anonymity disclosed that this is something that was between N400.00 and N500.00 some years ago.

The  minister  had said  had said that for the country to feed its 230 million people,  the Nigerian government  have option but to seal the borders with the neigbouring Benin Republic, Niger , Chad and the Cntral African country of Cameroon as did the Buhari’s Administration  to bring down  the prices of foodstuff in Nigeria.

He was said to have told the Lawmakers during a meeting with the nation’s economic team recently   that ‘’there are lot of undocumented export being smuggled out across the country’s seaports and land border Areas.

The hardship in the country appears to be getting worse on a daily basis that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, during Olusegun’s Administration, who had lost the February 25, 2023, Presidential election to Tinubu  , of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC,  had said that the country’s economic downturn started when he failed to address  the foreign exchange  crisis  and show case  any concrete policy  steps   his Administration  has taking  ‘’to maintain  the crisis of  the country’s currency fluctuation  and poverty level’’ . The former Nigerian Vice President, who had made several attempts to rule Nigeria but failed had stated that Tinubu’s government has demonstrated sufficient poverty of ideas to redeem the situation in the country.

He was emphatic that the country’s major challenge remains ‘’the persistent liquidity problem in the country’s foreign exchange market occasioned by limited forex flows into the country’’, noting ‘’ without foreign exchange reserves, confidence in the Nigerian economy will remain slow and naira will remain under pressure’’.

Godswill Akabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state led Senate would not agree with Atiku’s claims that Tinubu had brought Nigeria’s economy on its knees.  He  had made Nigerians to believe that Tinubu met  the Nigerian economy  in a complete mess  which he claimed was caused  by policies  initiated and carried out  by Godwin Emefiele, erstwhile Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,  governor  and not Buhari who was sitting at the driver’s Seat.

Abubakar: Sultan of okoto, Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder

Notwithstanding the claims of  Senator Akbabio, who led the Nigerian  Haloed Chambers, that President Tinubu  met the  country’s economy in a mess,  had lamented about  ‘’the deteriorating  socioeconomic and insecurity situation  which is an indictment on Buhari’s Administration.  Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar, an Brig. Gen. rtd and incumbent Sultan of Sokoto had said that ‘’Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder with large number of unemployed youths with no food to eat’’.

President Tinubu, Governors, Wike, FCT minister And Egbetokun, IGP, after an emergency meeting over hardship in the country at the Villa

Tinubu may have read the handwriting on the wall that there is danger a head that he had held an emergency meeting with the 36 states governors of the Federation including Nyensom Wike, a former  governor of Rivers state and minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT. Egbetokun, IGP, was also said to be at the meeting.

The Nigerian President who is under intense pressure, both within and outside the country, may have summoned the meeting   because of the economic hardship in the country as well as the recent surge of insecurity in different parts of the country. Nigerians are watching to see how Tinubu will end the economic crisis    which had had forced many to take to the streets in major towns and cities of the country to protest lack of food to eat.

Truck loaded with with food stuff from Nigeria heading to Niger Republic intercepted by Zamfara Transport Agency

While Nigerians are crying of food to eat, 50 trucks conveying foodstuffs out of the country to Niger Republic to sell were said to have been intercepted on Monday, February 19, 2024, by the Zamfara state Transport Agency. The Transport agency, was said to have grounded the trucks loaded with assorted grains. The trucks load of grains were said to have been intercepted at Gidan Jija Village, close to the Nigerian border with Niger Republic.  

 In a related development , the Nigerian Army  had intercepted a truck load of 600 bags of Dangote cement of 50Kg each and three others  aalegedly transporting   banned productto the  Central African country of Cameroom  Through  the north eastern state  The interception, according to a security source followed an Executive Order  banning the transportation  of building materials  across the country’s border  through the north eastern state routes by Ahmadu Umau Fintri, the state governor.

Dangote Truckload of cement intercepted by the Army at the border in Adamawa state

This is why Comptrollers Musa Omale and Dalha Wada Cheddi, Area Controllers of Soko/Zamfara Command Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, respectively and their officers, and their Counterparts in Adamawa /Taraba Command and FOU, Zone D, may have to intensify their surveillance operations in the north western states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa  and the north eastern states to stop the economic saboteurs who are out to make mockery of the Tinubu’s Administration.  

Additional reports by Elizabeth Chukwuma

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