Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD) has attributed the high cost of food items to the worsening insecurity which makes it difficult for farmers and transporters to convey farm produce from one region to the other.
CNEPDA explained that security situation in the North had reached a level where incidents of deaths, kidnapping, armed banditry and other violent crimes against the people, occur on daily basis, with many of such going unreported.
Recall that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), had reported that food inflation rose to 17.38 per cent in October, from 16.66 per cent in September, even as it put the current inflation rate at an astronomical 14 per cent.
National Coordinator of CNEPDA Engr Zana Goni, in a statement on Wednesday, called for the reform of Nigeria’s security architecture for better performance.
Goni regretted that the high echelon of the military had concentrated on quelling the now rested #EndSARS protesters at the detriment of security for lives and property in the North-East.
‘We wish to state here that the Sunday incident, which caught attention in high places, was just little of what we witness daily in other parts of the region. There are many killings and cases of abduction going on in the North, especially the above-mentioned zones that are unreported.
‘The victims are sometimes killed or placed on permanent hard labour just as the female ones are forcefully raped and impregnated by their abductors.
‘Most victims are captured in their farmlands while carrying out their routine and legitimate duties of farming, in order to provide for their families.
‘Again, the latest increase in the prices of commodities, especially food items in Nigerian markets, did not come to us as a surprise, in view of the link between insecurity and food scarcity.
‘The helpless situation, which our people have found themselves in, has made them abandon their farming activities, thus resulting in the current food insecurity in the country.
‘The revelation by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday that the country’s inflation rate has jumped to 14.23 per cent (year-on-year) in October, showing a percentage point increase of 0.52 did not come to us as a surprise.
‘We recall with regret that the current inflation rate of the country had risen to this level above the 13.71 in September,’ he said.
He added: ‘The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a computation which measures the average prices of goods and services consumed by people over time, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that the index also increased by 1.54 per cent month-on-month compared with 1.48 per cent rise recorded in September.
‘The 14.23 per cent year-on-year rise in composite inflation is 0.23 percentage point above the upper band of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) prediction for the end of the year.
‘Maintaining the recent trend, the food category led the index. It rose from 16.66 per cent year-on-year recorded in September to 17.38 per cent in October.
‘The rise in food inflation shows that Nigerian households have continued to spend an increasing percentage of their incomes on food! This is not only regrettable but also unacceptable.
‘We knew we were getting to this boiling point of our food insecurity and had long alerted the appropriate authorities on possible ways of averting this, one of which has been our consistent call on the Federal Government led by President Muhammad Buhari to restructure the security architecture of the country for better efficiency so that farmers can return to their farmlands.
‘Once again, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgent national priority, sack the Military High Command and engage new and vibrant senior officers, who are not in short supply.
‘We further submit that unless and until adequate security was provided for our people in the North, the current food crisis, which has pushed inflation rate to an astronomical height, will only get worse.
‘We will like to state, without any sense of equivocation, that as insecurity threatens food sufficiency, so does it have the potential to erode whatever gains the Buhari-led administration may be laying claim to.
‘We hold that as the President was able to select this crop of Service Chiefs in 2015, he still has the golden opportunity of recruiting even a better team, as all he needs is to assemble an intelligence team for that purpose.
‘Our fear is that, if nothing urgent is done to restructure the security architecture in the country, the poverty situation may worsen, with a consequential negative effect on the already precarious state of insecurity.’