Nigerians have faulted the claim by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, that over 17 million Nigerians are facing hunger and that the number could increase to 25 million, describing it as an understatement.
They insisted that the figure could be more with the current inflation rate put at about 24/25 percent.
They contended that the rate of poverty is increasing daily, especially among children and women, even as the country had earlier been given the appellation as the poverty capital of the world.
In separate interviews with The Hope, they maintained that currently, about 35 million of under- five Nigerians are malnourished, and out of this,12 million are stunted, based on UNICEF statistics.
An economic expert, Elder Fessy Olabode said, “I believe the figure could be more with the current inflation rate put at about 24/25 percent. The rate of poverty is increasing daily, especially among children and women.”
“The way out is to concentrate on aggressive poverty alleviation strategies such as increasing skill acquisition strategies for women and the youth, access to education through reduction of fees across the board, and support SMEs to fund their businesses to be able to employ more hands.”
A lecturer from Adekunle Ajasin University,AAUA, Mr Eleko Johnson said in the recent times, poverty keep persisting, hence, the need for mass food production.
He said, “there is increase in poverty in the land. This calls for mass food production by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, which will lead to reduction in prices of food and creation of wealth.
An aquaculture expert, Paul Eweola, noted that the level of hunger in the country is getting worse, leading to malnutrition, especially among children.
“One of the ways out of hunger is massive investment in agriculture, food security and price regulations should also be considered.”
The stakeholders called for an urgent action by government at all levels in the country to find a solution to the worrying situation.
A financial expert, Dr Chris Onfonyelu warned that aggression and violence in society are inevitable when hunger is on the rise.
“A hungry man is an angry man. Reduction in population growth and poor health are some of the implications of poverty. The way out is massive investment in agriculture and the need for food security,” he stressed.
A lecturer from the Department of Mass Communication, AAUA, Dr Toyin Adinlewa affirmed that to solve the hunger problem, Nigeria must solve the leadership problem and stop depending on imported products.
“We should not be surprised that UNICEF statistics is an understatement that 17 million Nigerians are hungry. The country has been declared a poverty capital in the world. When people are hungry, there is every probability that they will commit crime. Unless we begin to work on poverty, we might not be able to curb banditry, kidnapping and all other social vices.
“We are a consuming nation despite that we have all it takes to produce. We need to invest in production. We depend so much on bringing finished products to the country. We need to look into producing rather than consuming. If we continue to have leaders who are corrupt and do not care about the masses, this problem may persist,” he hinted.
In his view, Dr. Paul Temegbe Owombo, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Olusegun Agagu University of Technology, Okitipupa, said the government should reduce input prices.
He said the government must have direct intervention in food production, adding that farmers should have access to microcredit, subsidies on farm inputs and local government areas should be empowered to engage in direct food production, he advised.
A former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Ekiti State, Mr Muyiwa Olomilua enjoined the people to invest massively in agriculture, saying that the move would further tackle the menace of hunger in the country.
According to him, the solution to the problem confronting us is that the Federal Government should subsidize agriculture, in such a way that prices of foodstuffs will be within the reach of the common man.