President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that the middlemen were responsible for the increase in food prices and shortage of food items buying and hoarding of food items has been condemned by Nigerians.
President Buhari, in his independence Day speech on Friday noted that “as our food production capacity has increased, food prices have been going up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and hoarding these essential commodities for profiteering.
"To address this, I am hereby directing the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency and also work with security agencies, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to these disruptive and unpatriotic hoarding activities.”
Some Nigerians on Friday shared their views with Vanguard, noting that the president should rather blame Fulani bandits and insurgents who had driven farmers away from their farms resulting in food shortage and consequent rise in price.
Ambassador Yemi Farounbi in his reaction said, it appeared that the President did not dwell at all on the root causes of the problems.
“The president talked about the scarcity of food, he did not talk about the farmer and the herders’ clash. He did not make mention the fact that the herders have made farming difficult in many parts of the country that herdsmen had driven the farmers from the farm and therefore they have been unable to produce what they ought to have produced.
"So if he is talking of middlemen, middlemen between who and who, between the farmers that are no longer there, or what, it is sad. I thought this should be his opportunity to criminalize those who have made farming difficult in this country, those who have made it impossible for the farmers to produce what we need to feed our timid population.”
Senator Emma Nwaka asked Buhari to stop living in self-denial and simply admit the obvious fact, that Fulani herdsmen displacing farming communities were responsible for the prices of food stuffs skyrocketing.
“The President is living in self-denial. Does he think that the rest of us are fools? Who doesn’t know that it is the activities of Fulani herdsmen in particular that are causing food scarcity? Has he forgotten that he asked us to accommodate herdsmen. They graze openly on people’s farms, destroy crops and kill farmers in some cases. Then why won’t there be scarcity of food when the farmers are displaced?”
Similarly, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa asked Buhari to stop looking for excuses when he already knew the true cause of food scarcity.
“For two years many people haven’t gone to farm due to Fulani herdsmen menace. If we are not careful it will be worse next year. People are scared of going to farm because Fulani herdsmen can kill them. There is insecurity in the land. This is why the prices of food are going up. He should not blame middlemen because if supply is steady there won’t be any reason for inflation.”
However, the former Nigeria Ambassador to Argentina, Ambassador Empire Kanu, explained that Buhari should blame his poor management of the economy and the menace of his Fulani kinsmen herders for the instability in various sectors of the country including agriculture.
Also reacting was the National Organising Secretary Afenifere, Abagun Kole Omololu who said, “This is a familiar sing-song of Mr Buhari. His blame game did not just start now, it’s actually an echo of his military incursion into governance. What has the government done to arrest the grievous attacks on farmers and wanton destruction of farmlands by cows herded by vicious killer herdsmen?
"The President should disclose the middlemen and let the world identify and shame them. If he can’t, then he should just keep his peace and work to deliver on the evasive promises rather than insult the nation’s consciousness with such lame excuses of an indolent and insensitive administration.”