Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, has declared a state of emergency in response to the escalating food prices and shortages in the country.
To tackle the crisis, several initiatives have been put forth, including the allocation of funds saved from the recent removal of fuel subsidies to provide fertilizers and grains to farmers.
Enhanced protection measures will also be implemented to safeguard farmers who have abandoned their lands due to threats from criminal gangs involved in kidnapping for ransom.
Furthermore, support will be extended to low-income households, with a monthly allowance of $10 (£8) for a duration of six months.
Mr. Tinubu, who assumed office in May, assured the Nigerian population that these strategic interventions would be inclusive and that no one would be left behind.
A UN report from January had previously projected that 25 million Nigerians were at high risk of food insecurity in 2023, indicating their inability to afford sufficient nutritious food on a daily basis.
Food security concerns have long persisted in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, which has also been grappling with widespread insecurity for several years.
In the span of just 12 months leading up to June 2022, more than 350 farmers were kidnapped or killed, as reported by a Nigerian security tracking website.
Many of these attacks took place in the northern regions of the country. However, the introduction of new security measures aims to enable farmers to return to their lands without fear of violence, as stated by government advisor Dele Alake.
Specific details regarding the government’s approach to addressing the organized criminal gangs, commonly referred to as bandits, were not provided.
The responsibility for all matters pertaining to essential food and water will now fall under the jurisdiction of the National Security Council, comprising the country’s security chiefs and led by the president.
One of President Tinubu’s primary policy actions upon assuming office was the removal of fuel subsidies, which had been in place for several decades to keep petroleum product prices low.
While the removal resulted in price hikes of up to 200% in some regions, the president defended the decision, emphasizing the necessity of utilizing the funds more effectively.
The increase in fuel prices has had a cascading effect on the economy, with many Nigerians reliant on generators for their electricity supply.
Recently, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria issued a warning that bread prices would surge by 15%, leaving some families unable to afford this staple food.
Mallam Ado Yahaya from the northern state of Kano shared that his monthly pension no longer covers the cost of purchasing bread daily, prompting them to seek more affordable alternatives.
The newly introduced monthly stipend will be provided to 12 million households through the National Safety Net Programme, which is separate from another existing initiative that grants approximately $6 per month.
These vulnerable groups are also expected to gain access to the grains and fertilizers offered to farmers, although the statement did not provide specific numbers.
President Tinubu expressed the expectation that the program would stimulate economic activities in the informal sector while improving nutrition, health, education, and overall human capital development within beneficiary households.