“A National Epidemic” — Peter Obi Reacts As Seven Die Over 25kg Rice At Customs

Peter Obi

Peter Obi, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has reacted the death of seven Nigerians who died while attempting to buy the subsidized rice auctioned by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) last week.

Recall that the Service had announced plans to distribute seized food items from smugglers to Nigerians to ease the pain of the nation’s economic crisis.

However, the process, which started on Friday, was reported to have resulted in a stampede, leading to the death of some citizens who wanted to benefit from the initiative.

Following the reports, Customs reportedly stopped its rice distribution program in Lagos indefinitely.

Reacting via X on Monday, Obi said it is heartbreaking that Nigerians are losing their lives in their desperate quest to buy cheaper food in the face of the growing hunger and starvation.

The sad occurrence, he said, reflects the level of hardship, hunger, and starvation prevalent in the country, with millions of people not knowing where their next meal will come from.

Obi stated that is very sad that the national economy has been driven into perhaps the worst state in national history.

He, therefore, urged the government to lead the crusade against hunger by investing aggressively in our agricultural sector and also called on the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of the farmers.

His words: “Just yesterday, I read the saddening reports of how the search for cheap rice claimed the lives of some Nigerians in Lagos. According to the report, a massive crowd of hungry Nigerians had besieged the Zonal Office of the Nigerian Customs Service in Yaba, Lagos to purchase the discounted 25kg bags of rice being offered by the Customs Service.

“In the course of the heavy stampede that ensued, some lives were lost. It is heartbreaking to think that despite all the wealth of our nation, to purchase the discounted 25kg bags of rice being offered by the Customs Service. In the course of the heavy stampede that ensued, some lives were lost.

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“It is heartbreaking to think that despite all the wealth of our nation, with millions of people not knowing where their next meal will come from. It is very disheartening that our national economy has been driven into perhaps the worst state in all of our national history.

“The population of those who are, today, classified as multi-dimensionally poor has climbed astronomically to over 80% of our population. We have a hunger index considered very serious, with Nigeria ranking 109th out of 125 countries measured.

“Our food inflation rate is at an all-time high, at over 35 percent. Similarly, unemployment is galloping, and for a predominantly youthful population, this scenario is dire and frighteningly dangerous.

“For the first time in our peacetime history, stark undisguised hunger has become a national epidemic with hundreds of thousands of our people driven into open protests over food scarcity and unaffordability. The hunger protests have united our people across ethnicity, language, region, faith, and location.

“Most distressing is that in all our adversity, our leaders have resorted to spending stupendous amounts of resources on wasteful items like ordering expensive renovations of offices and residences that are already in luxurious conditions.

“We have seen our government spend more money on car parks for politicians than for the running of half of our teaching hospitals. In all this, there has been scanty attention to the living conditions of the ordinary people they were elected to care for.

“The huge amounts of borrowed resources that should have been channeled into production, especially food production, to guarantee an abundant supply of food in the nation, were rather consumed on inanities, rather than invested.as I have always said, are our biggest assets.

“Now is the time to put them into maximum use for food production in the nation and for exports. In doing this, the government and security agencies must ensure the safety and security of the farmers.

“I salute the resilience and determination of our Nigerian people, who in the face of all these challenges, continue to strive hard, with hope for a better nation.

“I encourage us all to remain resolute in our journey to building the New Nigeria of our dreams which remains POssible.”