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Nigeria’s federal government has convened an emergency meeting to address the spate of protests in some parts of the country following the rising cost of food nationwide.
The meeting, held Tuesday evening at State House, Abuja, was chaired by Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. It came on the heels of protests in Minna and Kano over the rising cost of living in the country.
But even as it convened the emergency meeting, it insisted there was enough food in the country, and accused opposition elements of trying to exploit the high food prices and the depreciation of the naira to cause havoc.
The government urged millers and major commodity traders to make their food reserves available.
President Bola Tinubu, who returned to Abuja Tuesday night after a two-week private visit to France, had directed a special presidential committee to take immediate steps to arrest the worsening food situation.
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, appealed to the federal government and all critical stakeholders to open the national food reserve. The House also advised the government to explore the option of importation of grains, poultry products, meat, beverages, healthcare and pharmaceutical products as a short-term measure to tackle the growing shortages.
However, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) alleged that the opposition parties were instigating unsuspecting youths to protest against the cost of living, following the protests in Niger and Kano states on Monday.
Youths in Minna, the Niger State capital, had on Monday blocked the busy Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu Roundabout, demanding that the Tinubu administration must address “hunger in the land”.
The “crucial” meeting on Tuesday was attended by members of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention. It was aimed at arresting the brewing crisis as a result of the soaring prices of food items and its attendant hardship on the citizenry.
Briefing newsmen after the over three hours meeting, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, expressed Tinubu’s concerns about the worsening food crisis in the country.
Idris said the president had directed that the situation should be arrested by the presidential committee.
He stated, “We just rounded off a meeting. It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians. This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow.
“The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what has happened in Minna on Monday and, therefore, government is taking some action to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of the availability of food on the table.
“Of course, this meeting is not by itself exhaustive. It’s just, like I said, the beginning. It is going to continue tomorrow and the day after.
“Now, some of these will involve unlocking the foods that are available in most of the storage facilities (National Food Reserve) around the country. You know that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has some food reserve. That is going to be made available to Nigerians.(www.naija247news.com)