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The looming hunger, poverty time bomb

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AMONG many others, two prominent Nigerians during the Easter weekend, raised the alarm over threats posed by hunger and poverty in Nigeria.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the twin threats at different fora, urging him to do something drastic to address them.

President Buhari

Emir Sanusi, who spoke at the 36th Aminu Kano Annual Memorial Symposium at Mambayya House, Kano, said poverty and hunger are twin evils that clearly define backward countries.

Adams participated in a conference in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday last week where the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, claimed that life had improved in Nigeria under Buhari’s watch.

Although the fact of pervasive hunger and poverty in the land should be pretty obvious to any serious leader, the clarion call from these leaders who interact with the grassroots everyday should be taken very seriously.

As of February 2019, the World Poverty Clock recorded that 91 million of the nearly 200 million Nigerians live in abject poverty, with the country already classified as the “the poverty capital of the world”.

Emir Sanusi, in his address at the symposium, affirmed the long-established fact that much of the poverty is pervasive in the North as only “20 per cent” of the extremely poor live in the Southern parts.

It is also obvious that the widespread hunger verging on famine is not only an offshoot of poverty itself, it has been exacerbated in recent years by an escalation of insecurity across the land.

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The entire food belts of Nigeria in the North East, North West, North Central and Southern parts have been under siege by Boko Haram Islamist insurgents, the so-called bandits, armed herdsmen militias, kidnappers and other violent armed groups.

Many farming communities have been displaced and are living either in refugee camps or have fled to larger towns for safety. Insecurity is fuelling poverty and hunger in a way never seen before, not even during the Nigerian civil war.

Insecurity, poverty and hunger have become elements of a self-reinforcing vicious circle rapidly pushing Nigerians towards the edge of the precipice.

We call on newly re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari not to dismiss the distress signals coming from the grassroots as mere rants of disgruntled political enemies. The situation is dire and real.

Buhari must use his renewed mandate to turn the security situation around for the better to enable Nigerians return to their communities and produce food to feed our people.

If urgent steps are not taken and soon, we fear that alternatives may be patently unbearable. The time to act is now.

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