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Hunger: Anger as many Nigerians die in search of palliatives



Several Nigerians lost their lives in the past few days while struggling to benefit from palliatives being distributed by the government amid the rising hunger in the land.

The latest is the unfortunate incident at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, where two students were reported dead during the distribution of palliatives while 23 have been hospitalised.

Governor Abdullahi Sule had ordered the distribution of two 7.5 kg bags of rice and N5,000 to each student of the state university in Keffi, the state capital.

However, two students- Grace Danladi and Rose Michael died in the unfortunate incident, while others were injured during a stampede ahead of the distribution of the palliatives to students of the school.


An official statement said the palliatives were billed for distribution at the convocation arena of the school before some students overpowered the security on the ground, causing a stampede that resulted in the death and injuries of the students while they carted away the food items.

In his reaction, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State said the death of the two students was not as a result of government’s negligence.

The governor made the statement when he appeared as a guest on Channel’s Television.

“It’s not something that happened on the part of negligence by the government.

“It’s very unfortunate that it happened but it had nothing to do with any planning, it has nothing to do with any negligence. We have been to eight places.


“It was the last place, which would have been the ninth institution that we went to. So, all these other places that we went, everything went so smoothly,” he said.

According to him, the stampede was not because of planning but because some students thought that their names were being replaced by the Students’ Union Government of the institution, hence the anxiety.

“We are very sad that two students died. We are talking with the families. So, for somebody to politicise it? It’s unfortunate that we are in a country where everybody looks at a tragedy and politicize it,” he added

Underhand dealings and inadequacy of the materials to meet the needs of Nigerians are some of the reasons being adduced for the deaths of citizens.

DAILY POST reported how seven persons died at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Old Zonal Headquarters in Yaba area of Lagos State while residents were making efforts to buy seized rice from the Service, which was sold at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate people’s sufferings in the face of the economic crunch in the country.


The exercise witnessed chaos and confusion when what was supposed to be a gesture of assistance from the government, the distribution of 25kg bags of rice, turned into an unpleasant scene, leaving many citizens frustrated and struggling.

The stampede was said to have occurred due to poor crowd management by the Customs, as hundreds of people tried to force themselves into the venue to buy the rice.

The Comptroller General of the NCS, Mr. Adewale Adeniyi, had assured the process for the sale of the food items had been perfected such that a form with all the details of the applicant including the National Identification Number, NIN, would be submitted and a bar code generated for the collection of the commodity.

Another recent incident in Bauchi State also saw at least four women confirmed dead in a stampede that occurred during the distribution of zakat (almsgiving exercise) to residents in the state.

The incident occurred on Sunday at the Shafa Holdings Company headquarters along Jos road in Bauchi.


Ahmed Wakil, police spokesperson in Bauchi, confirmed the development, saying that a 17-year-old girl, Naima Abdullahi, sustained injuries during the stampede.

Abdullahi was reported to be receiving medical treatment at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital in Bauchi.

Many believe that the desperation to avoid being left out led to people losing their belongings and lives.

However, some persons are blaming the situation on the uncoordinated sharing of the palliatives in the country and corruption by officials who are allegedly looking to profit from public sufferings.

For instance, Prof. Suleiman Bala-Mohammed, Vice Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, attributed the Friday stampede that killed two students and left 14 others injured to impatience on the part of the students.


Bala-Mohammed said that the students were not patient enough for the orderly sharing of the rice.

“The gesture of the state government was supposed to be a relief for the students given the hardship across the country. Unfortunately, the students were not patient enough to follow the process of accessing the palliatives.

“There was a stampede. So many of the students got injured. Two students lost their lives.

“What happened has hurt our reputation and our image and created a bad name for us. We will not accept that. An investigation will take place and, hopefully, we will have all the facts and information,” he said.

However, a human rights activist, Femi Falana blamed “official negligence” on the part of the Nasarawa State University for the avoidable deaths of two students during a palliative distribution stampede in the school.


Falana called for an investigation into the circumstances that led to the deaths of the two students and demanded compensation for the families of the victims.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in a statement on Sunday, said the distribution exercise was not well organised, hence the avoidable tragedy.

“It is unfortunate that the authorities of the University failed to draw any lesson from the recent stampede which claimed the lives of seven persons during the distribution of 25kg bags of rice in Lagos by the Nigeria Customs Service. No doubt, the tragedy would have been averted if the University management had distributed the 7 kg bags of rice to the students through their departments.

“Indeed, there was no justification to have assembled thousands of students without a standby ambulance. As if that was not enough, the university health centre was not equipped to attend to the injured students. Hence, they were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi where two female students were certified dead.

“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the tragic incident, the Nasarawa State police command should be directed to investigate the allegations of criminal negligence which led to the unfortunate death of the two students.


“The culprits should be prosecuted without delay. In view of the official statement that hoodlums hijacked the distribution exercise, the state government and the university management are required by law to compensate the bereaved families of the two students,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, a social critic, Aisha Yesufu, said people didn’t need those death traps if they had more disposable income and an enabling environment.

Yesufu, in a series of posts on her X handle, blamed the All Progressives Congress, APC, saying it has reduced good governance to sharing food to people.

“APC has reduced good governance to sharing food to people and even the lowered standard they still are unable to meet up. People are having to pay with their lives for food they end up not getting.

“All of a sudden people are dying because of stampedes at places where they are sharing food. We will then come and say it is God’s will.


“With more disposable income and an enabling environment many didn’t need these death traps called food sharing places to feed themselves and their families once upon a time,” she wrote.

On his part, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, expressed displeasure over the death of some students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) who died during the distribution of palliatives to the students.

Obi, in a series of posts on X platform, described the incident as tragic and disheartening, saying that the worsening level of hunger in Nigeria had continued to claim the lives of innocent Nigerians.

The former presidential candidate recalled the similar incident that happened in Lagos State where about seven Nigerians died in a stampede while trying to buy rice cheaper from a Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) warehouse.

He said that the unfortunate incident happened in a country that was richly blessed with human and natural resources, with vast arable lands for agriculture.


The former Anambra State governor insisted that Nigeria should have no business with hunger and poverty if the leaders were caring enough, noting that it is unimaginable how Nigeria has sadly descended to a level where people take what he described as unthinkable risks in order to survive.

He said: “Somehow, disheartening and tragic happenings have become our daily companions as a people. In yet another very sad development, I am disheartened by the reports of the death of some students from Nasarawa State University (NSUK) in a stampede while struggling for food palliative from the state government.

“Just a month ago, about 7 Nigerians, in a similar sad situation, lost their lives while trying to buy rice cheaper from a customs warehouse in Lagos. The very worsening level of hunger in our nation has continued to claim the lives of innocent citizens.

“Earlier in the month, a report by UNICEF indicated that about 31.5 million Nigerians will face acute hunger and severe food crisis between June and August this year.

“This is, unfortunately, happening in a country that is richly blessed in human and natural resources, with vast arable lands for agriculture. Nigeria should have no business with hunger and poverty if we the leaders were caring enough. It is unimaginable how we have sadly descended to a level where people now take unthinkable risks in order to survive.


“Now again, our children who were sent to study in a university, challenged by hunger, have lost their lives because of our national unproductivity. I do hope that these ugly incidents will nudge our government into taking urgent measures to end the current food insecurity, by moving the nation from consumption to production.”

Speaking to DAILY POST, a Public Affairs Analyst and Communication Scholar at Peaceland University, Enugu, Nduka Odo said ‘system failure’ is responsible for Nigerians dying while fighting for palliatives.

According to him, various economic policies of the government which were not thought through enough have dispossessed the citizens of the ability to fend for themselves.

Odo noted that Nigerians wouldn’t get to lose their lives if the country had a system where things were done in processes.

He said “I blame all these to what I call system failure. First, the question is not what should we do to stop Nigerians from losing their lives in search of government palliatives.


“The right question is what brought the situation where Nigerians are losing their lives while fighting for food to eat? When we get back to the roots of the situation, it becomes easy not only to appreciate how bad it is but also to be able to proffer the right solutions.

“Economic policies not thought through enough have dispossessed the citizens of the ability to fend for themselves. A seemingly kind gesture from the government has turned to fatalities.

“One thing you need to know is that the same haphazard policies that drove citizens to desperate situations are what have turned the distribution of palliative into loss of lives.

“If we had a system where things were done in processes, those Nigerians wouldn’t have died in Nasarawa. If we had a functional way of doing things, why would distributing or selling bags of rice become chaotic to the personnel of Customs in Lagos?

“Having functional systems is our problem. Once we have that, everything will work accordingly.


“We need a system that can ensure that no government can wake up and make policies that will drive tens of millions of citizens into extreme poverty.

“The same functional system will help us to know the exact identity of citizens who are in dire situations. That way, they’re contacted and helped as needed.

“Aside from the government, we, the citizens, lack the true appreciation of what a working system is. Imagine how everyone at the gate of the university in Nasarawa tried to get into the location of the palliative at the same time? It’s because we don’t see the need for a functional system, where things are done procedurally, first come, first served, everyone wants to play smart, and cut corners.

“A failed system supports a chaotic situation and favours those who cut corners. But a functional system ensures that the right and just thing is done.”

On his part, Onyebuchi Igboke, the Project Manager of Advocacy Partnership for Good Governance and Convener, Office of the Citizens, told DAILY POST that it is disheartening the way people are losing their lives because of palliatives.


Igboke said the development showed incompetence on the part of the government.

“It’s quite disheartening the way our people are losing their lives because of palliatives. It shows incompetence on the part of the government.

“Without data, no government can plan effectively. Any government that wishes to implement its plans effectively must look towards getting data.

“So, the question is: how long will it take us to get reliable data of our people? It’s not rocket science. It’s something any government, be it the federal, state or local government can do.

“We are very sad that up to this moment we hear about people losing their lives in various parts of the country because they are struggling to get palliatives, which is supposed to be of good intention by the government, in the sense that it was meant to alleviate the suffering of the people. But now people are dying because of it. Government should really look into it and see how it can get accurate data about its people.


“This is not time to apportion blame to anyone, it’s time for the government to step up its duties to ensure that the right thing is done,” he said.

Igboke continued, “Considering how Nigerians are losing their lives because of palliatives, one begins to ask: do we really need to lose our lives because of palliatives? That’s the big question. It shows a whole lot of inconsistencies in government policies, programmes and implementation.

“This is not the first time such is happening considering what happened during COVID-19 under former President Muhammadu Buhari. You discover that we had difficulties trying to reach the less privileged in the country.

“So the question is how long will it take the country to get accurate data of the needy in our society? People don’t need to lose their lives in search of palliative.

“It sounds ridiculous that people are losing their lives because of palliatives when palliatives are meant to reduce their suffering.”


Source link: Daily Post

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