19.8 C
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Tinubu, govs meet over food crisis as emirs, NBA lament hardship

Must read

Northern traditional rulers and the Nigerian Bar Association on Wednesday decried the hardship in the country precipitated by the fuel subsidy removal which had resulted in higher transport costs and food inflation.

The traditional rulers and the NBA asked the Federal Government to quickly address the situation just as President Bola Tinubu will on Thursday (today) hold a closed-door meeting with state governors at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, to proffer solutions to the economic crisis in the country.

Two Presidency officials, who confided in The PUNCH on Wednesday, stated that the meeting with the governors would be held before the President’s departure to Ethiopia for the African Union meeting.

Also, the Katsina State Governor, Dikko Radda, and an aide to Governor Nasir Idris of Kebbi State confirmed the planned meeting with the President.

The session is coming a few days after the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party compared Nigeria’s economic situation to that of Venezuela, a South American country in the throes of hyperinflation, escalating starvation, disease, crime, and high mortality rates.

But the Presidency criticised the performance of the governors, pointing out their failure to pay salaries, pensions, and the N30,000 minimum wage.

Protests had broken out in different parts of the country in reaction to the high cost of living with citizens in Niger, Kano, Kogi, Ondo, and other states demanding solutions to the economic crisis.

The organised Labour had also complained about the situation in the country, threatening to go on strike by February 23 if the Federal Government failed to provide the palliatives and other assistance that could mitigate the economic pains on workers.

Northern monarchs

But echoing the dire economic situation again on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar lll, decried the deteriorating socio-economic conditions and the insecurity ravaging the country.

Addressing his colleagues at the sixth executive committee meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council with the theme: ‘Enhanced Security as a panacea for stability and development of the North,’ in Kaduna on Wednesday, Abubakar declared that with the current downturn of the economy which had inflicted untold hardships on Nigerians, all was not well with Nigeria, especially the north.

He lamented that the twin monsters confronting the nation at the moment were poverty and insecurity, which if not tackled urgently, could spell doom for Nigeria.

But he was quick to exonerate President Tinubu while noting that the sorry state of the nation was the continuation of the last administration of the All Progressives Congress under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari.

“To me, this government is a continuation of the former government; it is the same party. So, what really is the problem? I think that is one of the reasons we are here to talk to ourselves,” Abubakar said.

The Sultan warned that Nigerians’ quietness in the face of these challenges must not be taken for granted.

The event also had in attendance the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Iyerste and other traditional rulers, prominent members of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Coalition of Northern Groups as well as the representatives of the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, among others.

The Sultan, who is also the leader of Nigerian Muslims said there should be no pretence that all was well with the country as Nigerians were more than ever before agitated because “they are hungry and angry.”

According to him, as a way out, the millions of unemployed youths roaming the streets and sitting idle must be engaged and taken off the streets as a way of staving off the looming calamity.

Youths unemployment

“We must find jobs for our teeming youths that are sitting idle and I have said it so many times, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, having teeming youths millions of them, without jobs, without food; we are looking for trouble,” he warned.

On the insecurity and poverty in the North, the monarch said the traditional leaders being closest to the people had the onerous task of calming down frayed nerves, assuring the people that things would be okay.

He noted, “We have entered into a new cycle of leadership, some new governors have come on board, while some are having their second term and still, we are faced with these insecurity issues.’’

The Sultan lamented that Nigeria was facing rising levels of poverty and a lack of normal sources of livelihood.

He added, “To me, this government is a continuation of the former government; it is the same party. So, what really is the problem? I think that is one of the reasons we are here to talk to ourselves.

“We owe it a duty to the teeming millions of people that believe in the traditional institution to bring solutions to the various problems facing them. We will not fail in doing that. We will do our best.’’

Stressing the importance of education, the Sultan challenged the participants to come up with ideas that could address the twin challenges of poverty and insecurity confronting the northern region.

Weighing in, the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, called on the President to declare a state of emergency on insecurity, in addition to ensuring the right investments in the security systems in line with global trends.

Maikyau, who addressed journalists on the state of the nation in Abuja on Wednesday, said insecurity had left many Nigerians homeless and also destroyed many businesses, adding that the citizens were losing confidence in the Federal Government.

NBA on insecurity

He stated “I call on the President to show a demonstrable commitment to prioritize the security of the lives and properties of Nigerians as already committed by him.

“The government, through our armed forces and other security agencies, must ensure that no square inch of the Nigerian territory is left ungoverned; no part of Nigeria should be left under the control of criminal elements by whatever name so-called.’’

“To this extent, we must declare a state of emergency on insecurity if we are to make any meaningful progress in this regard. It is time for the government to declare a state of emergency in the area of security and I urge you, Mr President, not to waste time and spare no effort in this regard.”

He also lamented the parlous state of the economy and the falling value of the national currency.

“The Nigerian economy is dwindling, the value of the naira has been bastardized, prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed, and everything negative seems to be on the rise. The insecurity has equally impacted negatively on food sufficiency and food security as a nation.’’

He urged the President to spell out his plans as well as efforts in revamping the nation’s economy.

Maikyau asked Tinubu to declare a state of emergency on the economy and state the deadlines for specific fundamental economic steps to be taken toward economic recovery.

But there are indications that the President has intensified efforts to end the food crisis as he will meet state governors today (Thursday).

A reliable source close to the President confirmed the meeting to one of our correspondents on Wednesday, saying, “The President will meet all the governors tomorrow (today, Thursday) before he leaves for Addis Ababa. He will meet them between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm. It’s a crucial meeting and governors from the APC (All Progressive Congress), the PDP and other parties must be here.”

Confirming the meeting, another source, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to reveal the President’s itinerary to the media, said, “The 36 governors are coming to the State House tomorrow (today). The President is meeting with them at 11:00 am.”

The PUNCH gathered that the state chief executives alongside Vice President Kashim Shettima would meet Tinubu at the Council Chamber for about an hour.

Shettima will go on to preside over the 139th session of the National Economic Council, the first in 2024, as the President prepares to depart for Ethiopia later in the day to participate in the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

In an update on his X account Wednesday morning, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, charged state governors and council chairmen to “wake up to their responsibilities” and resolve the food crisis and hardship in Nigeria.

He said, “The Federal Government is not the only actor in town. You have your duties cut out for you. Imagine each state making efforts to boost food production in its domain, build one world-class hospital, good roads, good schools etc. Imagine what our country would have become.’’

Confirming the planned meeting, the Katsina State Governor Dikko Radd said the current hardships being faced by Nigerians as a result of government policies would form the thrust of the meeting b in Abuja.

Radda said the meeting would discuss how to bring succour to Nigerians.

He stated this at the inauguration of governing boards for 10 parastatals in Katsina on Wednesday.

Radda said, “We are aware of the responsibility on us as governors. We are also aware of the economic hardships people are going through. We will do everything possible to bring succour to Nigerians, especially the poor.

“Tomorrow( today), all the 36 state governors will meet President Bola Tinubu over the current economic hardships to discuss ways to bring succour to the hardship the people are experiencing.

The governor explained his plans to meet with the council chairmen in the state to bring relief to the people during the forthcoming Ramadan fasting.

On his part, a top aide of the Kebbi State Governor, Nasir Idiris, confirmed that Idris and other governors would discuss the issue of food inflation with the President.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of sanctions, the aide said the pressing issue affecting the people of the state was the high cost of living which he argued should be tackled at the national level.

“Yes, I think our governor is among those expected at the meeting and if there is one major issue he will discuss there, it has to be the high cost of living.

“On security, even though much is still needed, we all can testify to the fact that there is an improvement in the security situation in the state compared to before,” he added.

Speaking on the pressing needs of Ekiti State which the state governor, Biodun Oyebanji, will present to President Tinubu during today’s meeting, a source said the state was concerned about the bad state of federal roads.

The state official who was privy to the governor’s plan, said, “I would have said security is paramount, but you know that we just got military deployment last week and the Federal Government is already showing interest in our case.

“Another thing that is of concern to Ekiti State is the deplorable state of the federal roads in the state. Most of the federal roads in the state are in parlous state.’’

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to take immediate steps to cushion the effects of the economic hardship in the country.

CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, made the call in a message during Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten Season.

The Lenten season is a Christian religious observance to commemorate the 40-day fast observed by Jesus, as told by the Biblical accounts of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Okoh, in his message, noted the plight of citizens, while stating that leaders must prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

He also urged Christians to extend helping hands to those in need, while also supporting the leaders in alleviating the sufferings of fellow citizens.

Okoh stated, “As we embark on this Lenten journey, our hearts are drawn to the plight of many who struggle to make ends meet, facing financial uncertainty and limited access to basic needs. We long for a Nigeria where every individual is afforded the opportunity to thrive, and where our leaders prioritize the well-being of the most vulnerable in our society.

“I urge our leaders at all levels of governance to recognize the urgency of the economic challenges facing our nation and to take concrete action in providing support for individuals facing economic hardship. Let us come together in solidarity and commitment to create a more inclusive and compassionate society where the burdens of the marginalized are alleviated and their voices are heard.’’

In continuation of moves to address the economic and security challenges, Tinubu has scheduled a meeting with the 36 state governors.

Seeking support for policies of the APC administration, the National Chairman of the ruling party, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, charged Nigerians to look beyond attacks, which he said were orchestrated to distract the government.

Ganduje made the appeal when he received a delegation of North-Central leaders led by former Senate President, Senator Ameh Ebute, a former legislator from Benue State, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado and Plateau State APC governorship candidate in the 2023 election, Nentawe Yilwatda, who came to the party secretariat on a solidarity visit.

Ameh holds the record for being the shortest-serving Senate President in Nigeria after he served less than 17 days in office before the National Assembly was dissolved by the late dictator, General Sani Abacha, in November 1993.

Ganduje disclosed that despite the attacks, the party would continue to support the President “until he brings his Renewed Hope agenda to fruition.’’

He said, “These assaults on Mr President, these assaults on Nigerians, we believe we will soon be out of these problems. We have to thank him for his Renewed Hope Agenda, efforts and commitment. We assure him we are 100 per cent for him.

“I am so happy that you realise the importance of having a stable political party that is focused, ready to win elections any time anywhere. There is no doubt that there is an opposition.

“But we believe with your cooperation, we will not continue to listen to undesirable elements who are not focused, who are not real party men and who want to see that we are in disarray.

“We have no place for that. We are people, politicians who are committed. We know we are forging ahead so we thank you for these resolutions. We thank you for this commitment.”

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article