It was exactly 100 days in office last week for President Bola Tinubu and all governors sworn in on May 29 this year. So far, it has been a bumpy ride for President Tinubu. For reasons not exactly his fault, he has been confronted by a myriad of challenges. For Nigerians too, it has been harrowing experiences living in this country these last 100 days.
Perhaps, out of a desire to be seen as being in a hurry to make a mark the president immediately, on being sworn in, pulled off the plug on fuel subsidy, and the nation has been on a free slide ever since.
Presently, the official pump price of petrol (PMS) is N617. However, due to logistics and other factors that vary by location, the commodity presently goes for prices ranging from N600 to N700 per litre across the country.
The consumer price index (CPI), which measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services, rose to 24.08 in July 2023, the country’s highest inflation figure in more than 10 years.
Fuel subsidy, we all agreed, has been organized crime against the rest of Nigerians. It was a regime of rewarding a few at the detriment of the majority of suffering Nigerians. Because there has been a long reign of organized sabotage against the country; it had to go. Whether the President intended it to happen as he told the world: subsidy is gone, is inconsequential, but the reality is that it has gone. The consequences of this are still very much around. Talks about palliates have been in a staccato manner. No one can say for sure what the government’s plan to assuage the pains of Nigerians really is. Apart, of course, from the recent release of N5 billion each to states.
This strategy of throwing money at every problem has never worked. Again, how the President decided to give the same amount to every state irrespective of the population of these states I do not understand.
Meanwhile, while some said they had received only N2 billion, others said they had not been paid anything. Some claimed to have been paid in full. While some states have been providing something substantial to its people, others are making mockery of the so-called palliative. Already, there are allegations of fraud around this money. At the end will the money be satisfactorily accounted for?
Generally, most of the states also plan to pay between N5000 and N10,000 to a specific number of people. Others have reduced by certain percentages fares on state owned transports services, as well as providing subsidised fertilisers to farmers. Commendable efforts, you may say, but how enduring would it be? At the end, will this not be similar to the experience of Nigerians during the COVID-19; where billions of naira was supposedly spent but with no result to show for the humongous resources raised for that purpose by international donors, corporate bodies and individual Nigerians?
The direct effect of this increase in fuel prices has simply impacted every aspect of the life of the people. Before the coming of the President Tinubu regime, food prices were already astronomically high, as a result of insecurity in the country that effectively chased farmers from their farms as bandits and their cousins, Boko Haram insurgents held sway.
In some instances, they were the de facto rulers in areas they operated, as farmers in many instances, were required to pay levies to these marauders. In this mix also include the killer Fulani herdsmen who operating under the cover of a careless government raided farmers, killing and displacing them as they pleased, just so that their cattle can access their farms unimpeded.
The Buhari government tolerated these killers and were ever so ready to rationalise the evil of these men, while no attempts were made to ameliorate the losses of the helpless farmers. And since farmers must access their farms for there to be food, Nigerians are without food to eat.
The country has continued to record an increase in food inflation rate, reaching 26.98 percent in July 2023, representing a 4.97 percent points higher relative to the rate recorded in June 2022 (22.02 percent).
According to the National Bureau of Statistics report, the rise in food index on a year-on-year basis was caused by increases in prices of Oil and fat, Bread and cereals, Fish, Potatoes, Yam and other tubers, Fruits, Meat, Vegetable, Milk, Cheese, and Eggs.
Similarly, the food inflation rate on a month-on-month basis, in July 2023 rose to 3.45 percent, this was 1.06 percent points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023 (2.40 percent).
The surest way to ensure that food prices will become affordable is for President Tinubu to immediately provide security across the country.
Elementary economics explains in the law of supply and demand how supply and demand are related to each other and how that relationship affects the price of goods and services. It’s a fundamental economic principle that explains when supply exceeds demand for a good or service, prices fall. When demand exceeds supply, prices tend to rise.
The low hanging fruit for the president to pursue is to rout these killers and secure the farms because agriculture holds the key to not only feeding the nation but also increasing the revenue base.
The contribution of Agriculture to overall GDP in real terms was 24.18% in the Fourth Quarter of 2015, marginally higher from its share in the corresponding quarter of 2014.
By February this year, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar said the sector had accounted for 23.78 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.
Abubakar gave the figure at the inauguration of the Federal Government’s Tractorisation Programme in Kaduna State. He said the agriculture sector remained one of the key players in the economy and the largest employer of labour.
He said the ministry would acquire 10,000 tractors, with implements and 50,000 units of assorted equipment to kickstart the programme.
Abubakar had noted that the tractorisation programme would lead to improved quantity and quality of food per person, reduce drudgery of farmers and increase productivity.
He said it would also improve the economy of farmers, drive development in agrarian communities, encourage youth participation, and improve revenue in the sector.
There are more than enough people willing to take up agriculture if the government pursues projects in that area devoid of politics and suffocating corruption. Today, food insecurity remains a great threat to Nigerians.
According to reports, the four contributors to food insecurity are: continued conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices. Food access has been affected by persistent violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, plateau, Benue and Niger.
President Tinubu must get down to work to secure Nigeria. This cannot be over emphasised. Inviting investors into an insecure environment is an exercise in futility.
Beyond the fanfare and celebration of 100 days, there is a lot of work for the governors to do. Nigerians are hungry and disillusioned. There is absolutely nothing to celebrate about in the last 100 days. So far, it has been a hundred days of hunger and deprivation, no more no less.