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Palliatives Fail to Ease Pain as Hunger Plagues Nigerians

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Palliatives Fail to Ease Pain as Hunger Plagues Nigerians

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Hope of relief dims as soaring food prices, inflation eat away at government handouts.

Despite President Bola Tinubu’s well-intentioned palliatives meant to soften the blow of fuel subsidy removal, hunger gnaws deeper at the bellies of many Nigerians. The removal, announced in his May 29th inaugural address, sent pump prices skyrocketing from N195/litre to a staggering N637/litre in some areas, triggering cascading effects: crippling transportation costs, economic hardship, and rampant inflation, particularly in food prices.

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To cushion the impact, the President promised 10 forms of relief, including N8,000 handouts to 12 million households (later suspended) and food distribution to the poor. One initiative involved N5 billion grants per state for food procurement.

However, these efforts seem like mere drops in the bucket of widespread hunger. Anthony Amaechi, a Lagos resident association leader, describes receiving a single bag of rice, beans, and garri for five streets containing thousands of families. “Only three people benefited in my street,” he says, highlighting the paltry reach of the program.

Others echo this sentiment. Funmi Asake, a businesswoman, paints a grim picture: “A bucket of garri has moved from N1,500 to N2,000; rice is over N6500; beans are N800 per derica; a crate of eggs costs N3,200.” The inadequacy of the palliatives is stark, evident in comments like Promise Ufot’s, a pensioner who received food that “didn’t last a week” and called the initiative “counterproductive.”

The echoes of past scandals around social interventions like COVID-19 relief and the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) loom large, further dimming hope. Politicians diverting funds meant for the needy is a recurring theme, fueling cynicism towards such programs.

Joshua Shoremeku, an executive from an Alimosho CDA, sums it up: “This palliative thing is a scam.” He recounts how his CDA received barely enough food to feed 24 families, forcing them to raise additional funds for proper distribution.

Nigeria’s bleak state is further underscored by recent National Bureau of Statistics data: annual inflation soared to 28.92% in December 2023, food inflation even higher at 33.93%. Despite President Tinubu’s State of Emergency on food insecurity and pledges to invest in agriculture, the biting reality is that everyday Nigerians struggle to put food on the table.

The question remains: how can effective solutions be implemented to truly address the hunger crisis and ensure equitable access to essential resources? Transparency, accountability, and efficient execution of programs are crucial. Engaging with communities, understanding their needs, and investing in long-term solutions like agricultural development are key steps towards alleviating the pain of hunger and building a more just and food-secure future for all Nigerians.

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