Challenge: Tell Tinubu’s government to turn around its economic policies—Okwu, Shehu, and others

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As a result of the severe hunger caused by the current economic crisis, worried Nigerians have urged the federal government to put aside its pride and undo some of its economic policies.

The recommendation comes as a survival tactic known as warehouse looting gains momentum.

Early on Sunday morning, a mob of enraged Nigerians broke into the Agric Department Strategic food store in Tasha, Abuja, and stole food supplies. The store was located in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Villagers said that a group of angry teenagers broke into a storage facility near the Tasha neighborhood and stole grain bags.

In a similar vein to the COVID-19 lockdown and the EndSARS demonstration against police brutality, a number of government warehouses around Nigeria were stormed and looted by enraged and starving Nigerians.

Perhaps Nigeria’s present economic crisis has compelled the country to repeat its past mistakes.

In both instances, security authorities in Nigeria had a hard time stopping the theft of government-run warehouses, which had escalated in the wake of massive youth-led protests against police brutality and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

At their breaking point due to hunger, Nigerians stormed and robbed warehouses housing tons of relief supplies, including food intended for distribution during the lockdowns imposed to contain the new coronavirus.

It is now very evident that Nigerians are witnessing a comparable event.

Soldiers attempting to quell mobs of young men who had seized food stores in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, in July 2023 murdered at least two individuals.

searches began on Sunday, July 30, 2023, at government food depots and swiftly expanded to private companies in the market. While the official death toll is unknown, police in Yola, the capital of the state, confirmed they arrested 110 persons in connection with the searches.

A curfew was instituted by the state administration. The next day, the curfew was loosened so that individuals may go about during the day.

Thirteen people have been taken into custody in connection with the looting in Abuja, according to the FCT Police Command.

Many Nigerians have strong feelings about this new development, with some even worried it would spark a revolution.

Stakeholders are calling on the government of President Bola Tinubu to admit fault and roll back its ill-considered policies in order to save the impending catastrophe.

Former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) national chairman Chief Maxi Okwu is among those who hold this view.

While Okwu acknowledged that the current economic climate is difficult for everyone in Nigeria, he said that the government should own up to its mistakes.

“Their situation is really precarious. The current economic crisis in the country has spiraled out of control, impacting even the business class, with the exception of the really large companies.

The federal administration seems to be completely lacking in ideas. They have no idea what the issue is or how to fix it.

“Is that all? They have appointed a powerful economic team with governors and other interesting characters, but is that the solution?” That won’t do; they need to treat the underlying problem rather than just the symptoms. Why? Because the economy was decimated and left to die under Muhammadu Buhari’s previous administration.

“I concur with what the governor of Anambra state, Prof. Chukwuman Soludo, said. A step must be taken in order to initiate solutions for the medium and long term.

It is necessary to temporarily roll back some of the initiatives enacted by the current administration upon taking office. The Naira’s floating and the fuel subsidy issue are what I’m referring about. For the time being, such policies will need to be modified in order to address the pressing issues.

It would have escalated into a full-blown revolution, he said, had Nigerians not been so patient.

There will be no popular revolution anywhere else in the world except in Nigeria. This is not a tale of military mishap; rather, it is the story of a popular rebellion.

According to him, Nigerians are a resilient people who will overcome any challenge.

Not only that, but he cautioned that things could get worse if immediate action was not taken.

Therefore, these acts of theft and looting are merely a desperate response. Actually, the government should be grateful that this particular instance of looting is quite minor.

If we were living in a healthy democracy, the masses would have taken to the streets by now, and the ruling elite would be in deep trouble. We can only hope for the best, though. A few of us have completely stopped trying. We are currently observing the situation and operating on autopilot,” he said.

Yusuf Shehu, a former congressman from Katsina State, also pointed the finger at the country’s dire economic position, saying that people are reaching breaking point due to the rising cost of living, especially food.

As he pleaded with the government to take action, he warned of the dire implications that would ensue if nothing was done.

Poverty is becoming the norm, and people are going hungry. Things are going to get out of hand if we keep going in this direction.

A lot of people need food. People are looking for any opportunity to take advantage of the lack of both money and employment in order to wreak chaos.

Anyone can find a food store and destroy it, even if it is owned by the government; people will steal food from wherever. As soon as possible, the government should figure out how to lessen the people’s pain, he argued.

He was against looting as well, although he did say that people should fight back when they feel they have no other choice.

People ought to be law-abiding citizens, hence this is bad. However, the state must also fulfill its duties. He argued that people shouldn’t be bullied into submission since that would force them to rebel.

As a lawyer, Romanus Okoye would be interested in finding out when and how looting was criminalized.

Looting is, without a doubt, essentially stealing. Therefore, the perpetrator of the act may face charges of burglary, petty theft, grand theft, larceny, or a comparable offense, depending on the circumstances. According to him, there are laws in some states that deal directly with looting and typically have harsher punishments.

“The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 explicitly prohibits the looting of civilian property during wartime,” he stated, referring to UN resolutions on the subject of looting.

In theory, the Custodian of Enemy Property is entrusted with handling unclaimed property until its rightful owners get it back, in order to prevent looting.

Looking at the laws about looting, he pointed out that when a population is as enraged as the Nigerians are right now, the future is unpredictable.

He said that everyone was living in extreme poverty except for the leaders, who were living it up.

According to him, the government officials act as if everything is fine, while the rest of the population suffers in extreme poverty and goes hungry.

A leader’s life is the best example they can give. The people are utterly unable to access these things. If people are going to be able to afford food and stay alive, the government must act swiftly to lower commodity prices.

Ikechukwu Anthony, a public affairs analyst, also voiced his disapproval of the fact that many Nigerians are unable to afford food, the second most fundamental need for human survival.

He said that the government must act swiftly to end the country’s hunger or else the worst would follow, adding that what transpired in Abuja is only the beginning.

“What transpired in Abuja is merely the beginning if the government does not take immediate action to ensure that Nigerians have access to food,” he said.

The price of food is steadily increasing, and as a result, many Nigerians are going hungry.

“I am here to inform you that a revolution is happening. No one can foresee what the people would do when the food in those warehouses runs out. I can assure you, though, that it is not without risk.

People will stop coming to work and the trucks will stop running because they are angry and frustrated since they can’t find food in the warehouses. Then they will direct their wrath and fury on any motorist on the roads of Nigeria.

Anarchy and the complete collapse of law and order, or revolution, are becoming more apparent.

“So, I’ll tell the government to stop ignoring this crisis and figure out how to get food to the average Nigerian as soon as possible.”

As soon as possible, he said, the government should rethink its policy.

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