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Activists raise alarm on imminent food shortage, wants FG to relax border restrictions

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By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina

AMBASSADORS for Peace and Enlightenment Foundation, a rights advocacy group, has admonished the Federal Government to take proactive steps to stem the imminent food shortage crisis in the country.

Speaking at the weekend at a public protest and sensitisation campaign against economic hardship in the land, APEF, led by it’s Founder and President, Comrade Savior Iche, alerted the public that it was important they unite to seek protection from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration over strangulating inflation in the markets and the seeming inevitable widespread hunger crisis across the country.

Iche, also the National President of the Association of Independent Manufacturers of Nigeria, said the unabated insecurity in the hinterlands, particularly the frequency of attacks on Nigerian farmers by some unscrupulous elements, has made many farmers abandon their farms and run for safety.

He said this means, by implication, especially if allowed to continue, “in no distant time, would plunge the country into a deadly Nationwide food shortage crisis.

“The situation is already a precarious one, as we all can experience the growing inflation in food prices in the markets. Simply put, there is economic hardship in the land. Families are hungry because prices of food are going out of their reach,” he said.

According to the activist, it is needless to remind the government on the fact that access to foods and water, and at affordable prices remain on top of the fundamental human rights of the people and Nigerians should not be an exception to it.

“To worsen the situation, the closure of our land Boarders against some African countries is not helping in anyways. For example, what is the sense in closing a border against smuggling activities only for the act to continue to grow,” he said?

Iche stressed that since the West African Countries’ Single Trading Corridor Policy has come into effect, it is going to be deemed counterproductive to continue to violate the same policy by restricting flow or outflow of legitimate commodities across the designated routes.

“We want the Nigerian Customs Service to stop their illegal raiding of our markets. This act is almost becoming criminal already. For God’s sake, rice is a major staple food in Nigeria, and the government has failed repeatedly to meet up with the shortfalls. So, we need the borders to be reopened and legitimate goods flow in and out,” he admonished.

The protest, which spotlighted other socio-development challenges in the country, also frowned against continuous exploitation of the masses in the name of Registration for the National Identity Number, skyrocketing prices of building construction, especially Cement, institutionalised corruption, among others.

While the protest was taken round the nooks and crannies of markets and public places around Ijegun and Isheri-Osun area of Lagos State, the protesters also made an unscheduled visit to one of the accredited NIN Registration Centers in the area.

At the place, multitude of people, mostly middle-age women and young mothers were seen clumsily sandwiched together while waiting to be attended to.

Struggling to be attended to under the scotching sun, the patriotic Nigerians, who also lamented being financially exploited, worn their pains and frustrations on their faces.

“I have been here since 4:15am. And this is already 12:45pm and I am still not being attended to,” an elderly woman who identified herself as Mummy Pelumi told this reporter.

“At this center, they are charging N200 for Registration Form, then N300 when the form is being submitted, and N500 for fast tracking,” Ayo, another applicant told this reporter.

As the campaign crisscrossed the communities, speaker after speaker specifically spoke on a more specific issues in the land.

One of them was Miss Peculiar Chichi, a volunteer with APEF and President, Youth Heart Matters Initiative, who educated the market men and women on the early signs of domestic violence and sexual harrasment.

A victim of sexual harrasment and rape herself, Chichi admonished the residents to always watch out for the unsolicited favours, compliments, gift items, and or unnecessary physical touching.

“Dear parents, you can not be careful enough. You must wear your eagle eyes at all times because the hawks are on the prowl. As good parents, it is your responsibility to protect your children,” she admonished.

Asked to shed light on her personal experience, Chichi said though she couldn’t get justice against her perpetrator who is now out of the country, but she has chosen to channel the energy to fight the cause of justice for other victims or potential victims.

“I couldn’t get justice for my abuse because I was afraid to speak out. I was particularly scared of the social stigma that would come with it. Had I know it was better to speak out early enough, I would have done that. However, i am happy that I am helping to get justice for other victims through my organisation — Youth Heart Matter, which we have used as a platform to help get justice for many victims,” she added.

Miss Magdalene Hackman, a Ghanaian human rights activist, who also volunteered to join APEF on the campaign, said she did so because she thinks the Nigerian government is not paying adequate attention to the issue of domestic violence and sexual abuses against it women and minors.

“Nigeria is a great country no doubt, and I love the country. But I am not happy that the country is not doing enough in terms of helping o protect it women and minors against domestic, physical and sexual abuses.

“I am saying this because in Ghana, for example, if any case of abuse of whatever kind is reported, the government and the law enforcement officials will investigate and prosecute the care diligently and transparently, unlike what is obtainable here where the police usually circumvent the process of justice,” she lamented.