Yes, over 70% of Nigerians have been said to be living below poverty level; to be living below poverty level indirectly means to be living on less than a dollar a day; yes, Nigerian prisoners have to be poor – at least for as long as they remain in the prison. However, for that same period while they are in prison, their upkeep is supposed to be the responsibility of the government. Now, how much can the government afford to pay daily for the feeding of these prisoners?
An interview granted by a lawmaker recently to a national daily revealed that the daily feeding allowance of Nigerian prisoners is N200. The lawmaker, Hon. Chinenye Ferdinand Ike, who is representing Isiala Ngwa North in the National Assembly, described the amount as “grossly inadequate and embarrassing”, a “big shame”. The honorable was speaking with Thisday newspaper when he made these claims.
Somebody will ask: What would N200 worth of food in a day to a full grown adult? Keep them alive? Keep body and soul together? Or perhaps just the body and not the soul?
According to Hon Ike “Its a shame that somebody could even think about that amount in the first place for the feeding of Nigerian Prisoners. When it was N450 in the previous budgets, we kicked against it and yet it is slashed. It is not in tune with reality when you look at the fact that the N200 cannot give you a square meal and every human being deserves three square meal. Even people who are free in this country needs more than N1500 to have an adequate meal.”
And, finally, one might want to ask too: what about the “special prisoners” – the al Mustaphas and co – in Nigerian “maximum” prisons? Is the same gesture being extended to them?