Imams, Bishops To Govt: Provide Food, Security To Poor At Grassroots

Muslim and Christian leaders Thursday called on authorities to provide food to people at the grassroots because survival is increasingly becoming difficult.

The rising cost of living, occasioned by food inflation, has continued to bedevil Nigerians, with concerned groups demanding definite action to end the suffering of citizens.

Reacting to the food crisis across the country, the Council of Imams and Ulama in Kaduna State, and bishops in parts of North Central and South West, said that citizens were facing severe hunger and hardship.

Imams in Kaduna called on Governor Uba Sani to prevail on the 23 local government chairmen to provide palliatives to the people in their areas.

Reacting to the food crisis across the country, the Council of Imams and Ulama in Kaduna State, and bishops in parts of North Central and South West, said that citizens were facing severe hunger and hardship.

Imams in Kaduna called on Governor Uba Sani to prevail on the 23 local government chairmen to provide palliatives to the people in their areas.

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On the other hand, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province decried the precarious socio-economic situation prevalent in the country, saying that “the ship of state is foundering.”

The province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, and Osogbo dioceses, stated this at the end of prayerful deliberations at the Jubilee Conference Centre, Ibadan.

Distribute food at grassroots

The Imams made their position known while addressing a press conference at the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) national headquarters in Kaduna, yesterday, where they said it would be dangerous to neglect the hungry poor at this moment of economic hardship.

Leaders of the council, Sheikh Aminu Umdah and Sheikh Idris Muhammad Sabon-Gari said the cries of the ordinary people echo the need for immediate relief.

“We, the council of Imams and Ulama of Kaduna State, are compelled to address the distressing situation of hardship and severe hunger our people are currently facing as a result of the government’s poor policy of fuel subsidy removal.

“We urge the state government to leverage its resources and influence to compel local government chairmen to actively participate in providing essential aid to the distressed masses,” they said.

The imams said collaboration at all levels of governance was imperative to ensure a comprehensive and timely response to the pressing challenges faced by the people.

“The recent distribution of food items and financial aid by the federal government to representatives of the people at the National Assembly and state governments has unfortunately left a significant portion of our beloved citizens grappling with unprecedented hardship.

“The cries of our people echo the need for immediate relief. We, therefore, in earnest, call on Governor Sani, and the federal parliamentarians from Kaduna State to as a matter of urgency, provide succour to the distressed individuals through the distribution of food items to the deserving individuals across the state,” they said.

Bishops decry precarious situation

In Ibadan, the Chairman of the bishops, Most Rev. Leke Gabriel Abegunrin, said Nigeria was fast becoming a hostile, killing field as evidenced by the regrettable kidnapping and killing of two monarchs; the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsakin, and the Olumojo of Imojo Ekiti, Oba Samuel Olusola in Ekiti State and the kidnapping of teachers and school children in the same state.

He added that the same unfortunate fate befell Oba Peter Segun Aremu, the Olukoro of Koro, Kwara State, whose wife and two others were kidnapped.

“The ship of the nation is foundering under the weight of pervasive insecurity, economic hardship due to hyperinflation and the collapse of the naira, cybercrime, high cost of food, lackadaisical governance, and widespread corruption.

“Day-to-day living is fast becoming an ordeal for millions of Nigerians because of pervasive poverty, driven by the harsh environment which has driven many to desperation and even suicide. It would be nothing short of hypocritical to put all the misery being suffered by Nigerians today down to change in the world economy.

“The truth is that, often, Nigerians are simply left to their own devices and left at the mercy of the most cruel and aggressive criminals by inept and selfish political and civil leaders. In all this, governments often seem weak or altogether absent. Any remedy now is even already too late for many Nigerians who have lost their lives to terrorists, hunger, kidnappers, and sundry disasters. We plead for urgent action from all our leaders to save the Nigerian ship from sinking.

“The much-vaunted renewed hope is turning to utter desperation in many places and there is not much time left,” they said.

The bishops therefore called on elected officers not to make excuses but to change things for the better.

Protest in Kano over high cost of living

Men and women last night took to the streets in Kano in protest against the high cost of food items and other essential commodities.

The protesters were seen around Kurnan Asabe, Rijiyar Lemu and Bachirawa areas along Katsina Road.

Usman Bello, a resident of Rijiyan Lemo, said they were sad with the harsh economic situation.

“We masses voted for President Bola Tinubu. It will not be good of him not to listen to our complaints and address the pathetic economic situation we were facing.

“To pretend that all is well is dangerous. Those people closer to Mr. President should tell him the truth that the masses are suffering and dying of hunger,” he said.

There were similar protests in Minna, Niger State on Monday and in Suleja, near Abuja on Wednesday.

Kano anti-graft agency to raid stores

Meanwhile, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC) has threatened to raid stores where food items are hoarded, to provide succour to distressed citizens.

Chairman of the commission, Muhyi Magaji Rimin Gado, told newsmen yesterday that the commission had been under intense pressure to act against traders hoarding food.

He said the commission carried out a similar raid in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when traders were hoarding food items to sell at exorbitant prices.

He said, “Sugar is now sold at over N73,000; it is unimaginable. Yesterday, I visited some rice mills in Kano and we discovered that the price of 50kg is N58,000,” Muhyi said.

While calling on those hoarding food items to desist or face prosecution, the chairman said the current situation should not be solely blamed on the foreign exchange crisis as some of the commodities were produced locally since there was no justification for the hike in prices.

According to him, section 40 of the PCACC enabling law empowers the commission to auction goods it impounds from would-be offenders of the law.

On the threat by commodities traders to close the market because of rising prices of foodstuff, Rimin Gado said any trader who closes shop is supporting those hoarding essential products, and that, the state government would not fold its arms and watch the situation degenerate.

He alluded to the Sudan turmoil, saying the increase in the price of bread triggered nationwide protests which snowballed into the political upheaval still ravaging the country.

Niger govt apologises to protesting women

Elsewhere in Niger, the state government has apologised for arresting and detaining Aisha Jibrin and other women for protesting against the rising cost of living in Minna.

Recall that the women, who kick-started the protest over the high cost of living in Niger State on Monday, at Kpakungu Roundabout, Minna-Bida Road were arrested by the police and taken into custody.

Addressing newsmen Thursday, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Binta Mamman, said Aisha and others who were arrested had been released.

She said the state government also apologised to the leader, Aisha and her family and the entire citizens of the state, assuring of efforts by the state government to cushion the effects of the hardship.

Nigerians’ resilience is being tested-Speaker

Speaking on the developments, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajuddeen has said that Nigerians’ resilience is being tested by the country’s prevailing harsh economic situation and insecurity.

The speaker also said the leadership and members of the House feel the pain of Nigerian families. At a world press conference on insecurity and other challenges facing Nigeria yesterday, the speaker decried the multifaceted problems besetting the country.

He said, “We are aware of the rising security challenges affecting different parts of the country. As elected representatives, we acknowledge the pain and suffering of every family that has been a victim of brutal crimes and needless violence.

“Let it be known that your cries have not fallen on deaf ears, and your tears have not gone unseen. We stand in solidarity with every Nigerian affected and commit to deploying robust legislative measures to empower our security agencies, ensure justice, and restore peace and order in our communities,” he said.

He mentioned the N2.176 trillion supplementary act meant to strengthen Nigeria’s security architecture and critical infrastructure deficit and the N200 billion palliative package for seeds, other agricultural inputs and grains, in addition to the 2024 appropriation as some of the interventions being implemented to provide succour to the people.

The speaker urged Nigerians to remain strong.

Labour issues strike ultimatum

The organised labour consisting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the federal government. The strike notice, according to the congress, takes effect today, February 9.

The unions accused the federal government of failing to implement the agreement reached in October.

The strike is to protest the rising cost of living, which has affected Nigerian workers since fuel subsidy was removed at the onset of the President Bola Tinubu administration.

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