Nigeria’s economy, no doubt, is in dire strait just as many of the citizens go to bed hungry. The times are hard for the average Nigerian compounded by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has triggered mass sack of the labour force throwing more people into the already saturated labour market. With this unsavoury development and shrinking economy, starvation looms large across the country, especially for the downtrodden unless stringent measures are taken to address the malaise. Nobody needs to remind us that in Nigeria today, begging, cutting across the strata of the society, whether corporate begging, as some would call it, down to those who truly are in need of help has become always a way of life.
They lurk around the street corners; even the daring ones, unable to bear the pang of hunger, walk up to their would-be benefactor soliciting for alms. Although some take it as a habit or those called professional beggars, the first time visitor would go home with the impression that Nigeria is indeed, the poverty capital of the world. This unenviable tag should worry all right thinking Nigerians and make them to think outside the box in order to check the downward slide into a state of anarchy. Nigeria has no excuse or reasons for its citizens to go hungry in view of enormous resources at its disposal, human and materials to put things right. Though there are no accurate statistics since 1974 to know the basic full requirement of the average Nigerian, the
Food and Agricultural Organization recommends the following food intake per head per day for the working class: Calories- 3000 to 3500, Protein- 70 grammes, Iron- 10 miligrammes, Thiamine- 0.9-1.2 mgs, Riboflavin- 1.2 mgs-1.7 mgs, Ascorbic acid- 30 mgs-70 mgs. The average Nigerian food intake per head per day is no where near the recommended food intake and far below compared with the caloric intake per head per day of a worker in the United States of America or Europe put at 3,130, and his total protein intake is 90 gms. Going by the figures, it follows then that the average Nigerian food consumer would require 2,000 naira on the average to adequately feed himself per day, while a family of five comprising father, mother and three children would need to spend about 10,000 or there about, per day to feed well and satisfactorily so.
The above scenario paints a grim picture on what a Nigerian citizen is passing through on a daily basis to eke out a living. You cannot blame those who conclude that life in Nigeria is short and brutish, hence the mass exodus particularly of her professionalsmedical doctors who are poorly paid, in this case, to overseas in search of greener pastures. The ugly situation boils down to misappropriation or misplaced priorities by the government that has seen Nigeria in the deep blue sea of unemployment, dearth of social infrastructure, kidnapping, banditry and other vices inimical to the healthy growth of the society. The dangers of a hungry population is ominous.
They not only constitute the security risk, but that the country would be at the losing end if it falls to motivate and mobilise the healthier, more productive and useful members of the society to achieve set goals. The priority for the government now is to address the issue of corruption in high places and see how it can bring the wobbling economy back to its feet. The land tenure in the southern part of the country is uneconomic and a big obstacle to modernization of the agricultural sector. The present system of individual peasant or subsistent farming is equally uneconomic and a setback.
The security situation in the northern part of the country with open arable land suitable for mechanized farming should be tackled for farmers to cultivate and harvest their crops unmolested. The high cost of food items in the market has been blamed squarely on the unwholesome activities of bandits and herdsmen. It is also the responsibility of the government to provide jobs for the teeming population and increase household income that would in turn boost their caloric intake and save the country from breeding malnourished children who would become a liability rather than asset to the country