ABUJA___THE Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, met behind closed doors with the National Security Adviser, NSA, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and some ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, over food security and protests in some states.
The meeting, which began at about 05:30 pm, also had in attendance the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso; Ministers of Education, Dr Tahir Mamman; Finance, Wale Edun; Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu; Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari; and State for Agriculture, Sabi Abdullahi.
The parley was held as the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and some opposition parties disagreed over cost of living protests in Niger and Kano states.
While the APC accused the opposition of sponsoring what it dismissed as anti-President Bola Tinubu protests, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Labour Party, LP, and Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, said the APC was chasing shadows and had itself to blame for the protests.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted for about three hours, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, expressed President Bola Tinubu’s worry over the development.
He said that the President has directed that the situation should be arrested by the Presidential Committee in order to reduce hardship on the populace.
The Minister, who said that there is enough food in the country, added that some elements are trying to take advantage of the high food prices and the depreciation of naira to cause havoc.
He said, “We just rounded off a meeting. It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians.
“This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow. The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what has happened in Minna yesterday, and therefore government is taking some action to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of the availability of food on the table.
“Of course, this meeting is not by itself exhaustive. It’s just like I said, the beginning. It is going to continue tomorrow and the day after.
“Now, some of these will involve unlocking the foods that are available in most of the storage facilities (National Food Reserve) around the country. You know that the Federal Minister of Agriculture has some food reserves. That is going to be made available to Nigerians.”
The meeting was held on the heels of the protests by women in Minna, Niger State, and that of angry youths in Kano over the rising cost of living in the country.
A group of women in Minna, Niger State, had on Monday, blocked the ever-busy Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu Roundabout and called on the administration of President Bola Tinubu to address the problem of ‘hunger in the land.’
Youths in Kano also protested over the hardship in the country and the state governor, Abba Yusuf, assured them that he would take their complaints to the President.
Opposition instigating anti-Tinubu protests – APC
However, the APC has accused the opposition of instigating the protests against President Tinubu’s administration in the guise of protesting against the increasing cost of living in the country.
In a statement, by its spokesman, Mr. Felix Morka, the APC said in their arrant desperation to portray the APC-led administration as under-performing, “opposition parties have resorted to instigating unsuspecting young people to protest in the streets of some major cities.”
It said the protests in Minna and Kano on Monday were the manifestation of this devious and unpatriotic plot.
“That the protests happened simultaneously in both cities is not coincidental. It bears a bold stamp of an orchestrated and coordinated effort to instigate unrest and undermine the government. This mercenary opposition tactic is a clear and present threat to public peace and national security.
“While we recognize the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest, we urge our good people to be vigilant and not lend themselves to the treacherous attempt by the opposition to promote social strife by its incendiary rhetoric and manipulative plots.”
It said President Tinubu was committed to mitigating “the transient pains of critically important reforms that are crucial to economic recovery and sustainable prosperity for all Nigerians,” and implored Nigerians to shun “guile and unpatriotic attempt by opposition elements to destabilize the country” for their parochial political gains.
Let Nigerians breathe, PDP tells Tinubu, APC
Countering, the PDP asked President Tinubu and the APC to let Nigerians breathe by allowing the citizens to freely protest unjust policies.“The party also condemned what it described as vicious attempts by the Tinubu Presidency and the APC to politicize the protest by Nigerians against the current economic hardship.
The PDP said citizens also took to the streets to protest worsening insecurity in the country, occasioned by the anti-people policies and unprecedented corruption of the President Tinubu-led APC administration.“National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Debo Ologunagba, in a statement in Abuja, said: “The action of the APC in threatening Nigerians for exercising their democratic and constitutional right to protest in the face of misrule, agonizing poverty, hunger, killings and other harrowing experiences under the Tinubu administration shows that the APC is insensitive and relishes the life-discounting situation in the country.
“These thoughtless policies by President Tinubu and the APC are responsible for the crippling of the productive sector with 28% inflation rate, crashing of the naira from N167 to over N1,500 to a dollar, closure of millions of businesses and mass exodus of international companies from Nigeria, resulting in a distressing 41% unemployment rate and unbearable pressure on millions of families across the country.”
Deal with issues, stop chasing shadows LP tells Tinubu, APC
In like manner, the LP advised President Tinubu and the APC to deal with the fallout of their failed policies instead of looking for scapegoats to blame for their ineptitude.
National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Obiora Ifoh, in an interview with Vanguard, said the APC was simply trying to play the ostrich because even its members who are ordinary citizens, are suffering like their peers on the streets and have lost any genuine reason to continue to hide under the guise of party support to deny facts.”
He said: “Those who took to the streets in Minna, Niger State, a state controlled by the APC went to the streets not as members of opposition parties but as citizens bearing the brunt of this administration’s ineptitude and lack of preparation for governance.”
Hunger, depression, crime’ve taken over Nigeria – CUPP
Also, National Secretary of the CUPP, Chief Peter Ameh, faulted the Federal Government’s implementation of fuel subsidy removal without a plan and other actions for the biting hardship in the country.
His words: “Our standard of living has significantly gone downwards, hunger and starvation is not only staring us in our faces but gnawing our bowels. Most parents cannot send their wards to school anymore. Criminality is on a geometric increase.
“The unplanned, unprepared and unstructured removal of subsidy is the root cause of all these harsh economic realities and it brought crushing economic misery to the majority of Nigerians. A better plan would have been to phase it out in a way the poor will not bear the brunt of the economic consequences.”
Tinubu returns from France
Meanwhile, President Tinubu returned to the country, yesterday, after his private visit to France.
The president arrived at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport at 8:50p.m. and was received by a delegation led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen George Akume.
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