By Rilwan Adesoji Akanbi
As of 2018, data has it that about 3.7 million people, across 16 Nigerian states were food insecure and between 2018 and 2020, averagely 21.4 percent of Nigeria’s population experienced hunger.
Of course this has been linked to very well-known factors like civil conflicts, mass displacement, climate change and natural resource degradation, poverty and population growth as well as rising food prices. But this is 2021 and the negative statistics would get even worse as more families, especially children are going about hungry because their parents cannot afford to cook the little food they managed to buy at high costs.
The rising cost of cooking gas has become a huge monster and millions of citizens are concerned. I am concerned, not just because of the present growing hunger in the land but because the greater future we hope for might be starved into nothingness. A hungry child cannot learn, they cannot create, they cannot reject crime, and they cannot easily build a sense of worth. The quality of food, the balance of nutrients, its consistency and quantity are all what the development of a child depends on.
A hungry country, state or village is, in all ramifications, an unsafe one and more importantly now, hungry children mean a high percentage of mentally average or below average adults to manage the future of our country. We must not do this to ourselves as a country, as a people.
When we put our problems in the right perspectives, especially considering the hierarchy of needs, we will realize that sometimes, we just need to simplify leadership by taking care of some of the most important elements that create good citizenship and we would have snuffed the bigger demons. This is the time for governors across Nigeria to summon their economic teams and gather oil and gas experts in their states to come up with creative ideas to solve this problem.
I make reference to an initiative by the Lagos State government, a 40 metric tonne Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) plant in Ikorodu that was recently commissioned by the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
This gas plant alone, built by the State-owned energy firm, can cater for 20,000 homes! Even in a highly populated state like Lagos, supplying 20,000 homes with quicker and cheaper LPG for domestic use will significantly cut down air pollution and ensure that more children can feed well and regularly too.
I do not need to go into analyzing the demand and supply chart for cooking gas over the years, now that it is no longer just for the rich. But if indeed Nigeria plans to develop its natural gas industry to grow domestic use of safe cooking gas and we are serious about our citizens’ quality of life, then, governments at the state level must be proactive in developing interventions and solutions.
While we look forward to a better 2022, and Nigerians continue hope for food abundance in the nation, the Federal Government must by now be aware that a country where majority are hungry can never have peace and progress. The masses cannot survive without rice and other staple and complimentary food items. So, this might be a good time to consider relaxing the ban on the importation of certain food items until local production truly nears its potential to give us self-sufficiency.
Yes, the agricultural sector contributes significantly to the country’s GDP and we are considered to be a leader in agricultural production. However, we should only start to pride in these when we start to produce enough to feed our huge population and end hunger in our land.
Therefore, and lastly, there is the need for the FG to consider collapsing all the agricultural loans, grants and interventions programmes into one single unit so they can be better managed, monitored and their impact can be better felt by the people they were created for.
God bless Nigeria.