Customs stampede: Nigerians shouldn’t be dying chasing cheaper food – Peter Obi

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The 2023 presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has bemoaned the deaths of some Nigerians due to a stampede at the Zonal Office of the Nigerian Customs Service in Yaba, Lagos State.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had confirmed that its member, Comfort Adebanjo, and six others died in the Friday, February 23 incident.

Reacting in a Facebook post on Monday, February 25, Obi said, “Just yesterday, I read the saddening reports of how the search for cheap rice claimed the lives of some Nigerians in Lagos.

“According to the report, a massive crowd of hungry Nigerians had besieged the Zonal Office of the Nigerian Customs Service in Yaba, Lagos, to purchase the discounted 25kg bags of rice being offered by the Customs Service.

“In the course of the heavy stampede that ensued, some lives were lost. It is heartbreaking to think that despite all the wealth of our nation, Nigerians are losing their lives in their desperate quest to buy cheaper food in the face of the growing hunger and starvation in the country.

“This sad occurrence reflects the level of hardship, hunger, and starvation prevalent in the country, with millions of people not knowing where their next meal will come from,” Obi said.

The former governor said it was very disheartening that the national economy has been driven into perhaps the worst state in all of the nation’s history.

“The population of those who are, today, classified as multi-dimensionally poor has climbed astronomically to over 80% of our population. We have a hunger index considered very serious, with Nigeria ranking 109th out of 125 countries measured.

“Our food inflation rate is at an all-time high, at over 35 percent. Similarly, unemployment is galloping, and for a predominantly youthful population, this scenario is dire and frighteningly dangerous.

“For the first time in our peacetime history, stark undisguised hunger has become a national epidemic with hundreds of thousands of our people driven into open protests over food scarcity and unaffordability.

“The hunger protests have united our people across ethnicity, language, region, faith, and location,” Obi said.

He said it was most distressing that amid the adversity, the nation’s leaders have resorted to spending stupendous amounts of resources on wasteful items like ordering expensive renovations of offices and residences that are already in luxurious conditions.

“We have seen our government spend more money on car parks for politicians than for the running of half of our teaching hospitals.

“In all this, there has been scanty attention to the living conditions of the ordinary people they were elected to care for.

“The huge amounts of borrowed resources that should have been channeled into production, especially food production, to guarantee an abundant supply of food in the nation, were rather consumed on inanities, rather than invested.

“Today, we are one big nation united by hunger and starvation, to the point of dying to make ends meet.

“Again, I strongly urge the government to lead the crusade against hunger by investing aggressively in our agricultural sector. The vast uncultivated lands in the North, as I have always said, are our biggest assets.

“Now is the time to put them into maximum use for food production in the nation and for exports.

“In doing this, the government and security agencies must ensure the safety and security of the farmers,” Obi said.

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