Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, has announced a state of emergency in response to escalating food prices and shortages.
Among the measures being implemented, funds previously allocated for fuel subsidies will now be utilized to supply farmers with fertilizers and grains.
Additionally, efforts will be made to enhance the security of farmers, who have been increasingly targeted by ransom-seeking gangs, resulting in many abandoning their lands.
Furthermore, assistance will be extended to underprivileged households, providing them $10 (£8) monthly for six months.
“I assure all Nigerians that no one will be left behind in these strategic interventions,” said Mr Tinubu, who took office in May.
A UN report released in January estimated that 25 million Nigerians were facing a high risk of food insecurity in the current year, indicating their inability to afford an adequate and nutritious daily diet.
Concerns regarding food insecurity have persisted in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, which has also been grappling with widespread insecurity for several years.
According to a Nigerian security tracking website, over 350 farmers were kidnapped or killed from the period until June 2022. These attacks primarily occurred in the northern region of the country.
However, implementing new security measures aims to create a safe environment for farmers to return to their farmlands without fear of attacks, as government advisor Dele Alake stated. No further information was provided regarding the government’s strategy to address the notorious criminal groups, commonly known as bandits.
The National Security Council, headed by the president and composed of the country’s security chiefs, will now assume responsibility for all essential food and water matters.
One of President Tinubu’s initial major policy decisions upon assuming office was the removal of the long-standing fuel subsidy, which had maintained low petroleum product prices for decades. While this removal has resulted in price increases of up to 200% in certain regions of the country, the president has defended the move, emphasizing the necessity of utilizing the saved funds more effectively.
The surge in fuel prices has had a cascading effect on the economy, with many Nigerians relying on generators for electricity. Recently, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria warned of a 15% spike in bread prices, making it unaffordable for some families.
The National Safety Net Programme, a separate initiative from the previous government’s program offering a monthly stipend of approximately $6, now provides a new monthly allowance to 12 million households. These vulnerable individuals are also expected to gain access to the grain and fertilizer provided to farmers, although the statement did not specify the exact numbers.
President Tinubu stated that the program is expected to stimulate economic activities in the informal sector and enhance nutrition, health, education, and overall human capital development within the beneficiaries’ households.