• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Food looting on the rise as economic hardship persists

Looting in Adamawa

Some Nigerians looted a warehouse in Abuja on Sunday, the latest of such attacks in the country in recent times.

Several incidents of such attacks have been reported in many cities as perpetrators blame hardship and the cost of living crisis in Africa’s largest economy.

Last week, some youths stole food items from trucks stuck in traffic along Kaduna Road in the Suleja area of Niger State.

The attackers reportedly overwhelmed the truck drivers and looted scores of bags of rice before they were dispersed by soldiers.

And on Sunday, some residents of the Federal Capital Territory looted a warehouse reportedly belonging to the National Emergency Management Agency over the lingering food crisis.

Reacting to the Abuja warehouse looting, Shehu Sani, a politician and human rights activist, took to his social media X on Sunday, saying looting of foodstuff by the citizens signals a looming crisis that the government needs to urgently arrest.

“Masses looting foodstuffs from a Government Warehouse in our oil-rich Nigeria is a dangerous symptom of an impending revolution that must be averted or contained,” the former senator said.

Similarly, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the looting of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) warehouse shows that the economic policies of the Tinubu-led administration are yet to bring succour to the long-suffering people.

Speaking in an interview on Channels Television on Monday, Adegboruwa said the majority of Nigerians are in a crisis of survival.

“Across all states in Nigeria presently, there is a crisis of survival from the part of the people. So, it is not just this particular occurrence, a truck bearing foodstuff was randomly attacked and looted,” he said.

The cost of living crisis has led to a series of protests in major cities in the country with citizens requesting immediate answers to the myriad of economic woes facing them.

“There are indications of a looming crisis as a result of the rising cost of living, especially with food prices. For instance, the cost of bread and rice are high including cooking gas,” Muda Yusuf, chief executive officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, said.
Yusuf said the government needs to engage big players in the food production industry for emergency periods like this and give guarantees to local rice farmers that they will take up whatever they produce.

In the same vein, Temitope Omosuyi, an investment strategy manager at Afrinvest Limited, said there is already a social crisis in the country.
“A social crisis is typically caused by one of two factors, or both: a political crisis and an economic crisis. We need the federal government to continue to act aggressively on the economic front to avert an economic-induced social crisis. At the centre of this conversation is price stability,” he said.
Omosuyi added that there is a need to discuss and act on how to get people back to the farm without fear plus other incentives.

Cost of food items in Africa’s most populous nation have tripled, with food inflation rising to 35.41 percent snatching staples out of reach of many.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kashim Shettima on Sunday urged Nigerians to apply discretion in protesting the current economic situation in the country, asking them to do so “in a responsible and mature manner.”

He appealed to citizens to persevere and not to interpret the hardship as the government’s attempt to punish them.