The Federal Government of Nigeria and other key stakeholders have been tasked with a fresh report indicating that about 25 million citizens of the country are highly at risk of hunger.
This appeal came following a food and nutrition analysis carried out by Cadre Harmonise, a group supported by the United Nations, revealing that almost 25 million Nigerians might face excruciating starvation if nothing is done to curb it.
The government-led group, in its analysis done twice a year, noted that these affected figures are at serious risk of battling hunger between June and August this year.
Before this latest analysis, a report had pegged the number of Nigerians currently at risk of starvation to 17 million.
Owing to worsening insecurity, climate change, and rising cost of food prices in the country, Cadre Hamonise’s data revealed an increase in the number of affected Nigerians courting hunger.
The reasons for the worsening situation were contained in a release sighted on the website of the United Nations Children’s Fund.
UNICEF also said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had corroborated its findings on the key drivers of the alarming trend by saying that, “widespread flooding in the 2022 rainy season damaged more than 676,000 hectares of farmlands, which diminished harvests and increased the risk of food insecurity for families across the country.”
The release by UNICEF reads further, “food access has been affected by persistent violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger.
“The flooding is one of the effects of climate change and variability impacting Nigeria. More extreme weather patterns affecting food security are anticipated in the future.”
According to the global organisation, out of the 17 million people who are currently food insecure, three million are in the North East BAY states.
The UN noted that if nothing urgent and immediate is done to mitigate the effects, the figure may increase to 4.4 million between June and August, which are described as the lean season.
Among those at higher risk of hunger, according to UN, are highly vulnerable displaced populations and returnees who are already struggling to survive a devastating humanitarian crisis in which 8.3 million people are in urgent need of help.
Meanwhile, to prevent the latest projection from coming into reality, UN has appealed to the Federal Government, the donor community, and public and private organisations to, as a matter of necessity, render resources and implement mitigation measures to save lives and prevent a potentially deadly food security and nutrition situation.
Also expressing concern over the development, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, said the projection would increase mortality in the country if not checked.
Schmale, who said he had visited nutrition stabilization centres populated by children, lamenting that, these children “are fighting to stay alive. We must act now to ensure they and others get the lifesaving support they need.
“There is a serious risk of mortality among children attributed to acute malnutrition. In the BAY states alone, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition is expected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to two million in 2023.
“UNICEF, working with the government and partners such as MSF and ALIMA, is investing in scaling up preventive nutrition interventions, while ensuring that vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition services. In 2022, UNICEF with its partners was able to reach approximately 650,000 children with life-saving nutrition services across the six states mentioned above.
“The northwest region, around Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states, is an increasing food insecurity and malnutrition hotspot. An estimated 2.9 million people are currently critically food insecure (Cadre Harmonisé Phase 3 or worse.) This figure is projected to increase to 4.3 million in the lean season if urgent action is not taken,” he further noted.
NNPC Identifies Reasons for Nationwide Fuel Crisis, Takes Steps to Tackle Menace
NNPC revealed that another reason for the crisis was that some corrupt marketers were smuggling petrol to neighbouring countries
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has identified shortage in the evacuation and distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol to marketers as one of the reasons for fuel crisis in Nigeria.
Investors King had reported that long queues had been recorded at petrol stations across the country in the last few months as retailers sell at exorbitant rates ranging between N350 and N600 per litre.
The crisis in the petroleum industry had also forced commercial transporters to jack up their fares as Nigerians, especially commuters, groan owing to the negative effects the crisis has brought on prices of food and other items.
Also, NNPC revealed that another reason for the crisis was that some corrupt marketers were smuggling petrol to neighbouring countries and poaching investors to these countries to sell the smuggled commodity to them.
These were disclosed by the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari, while
explaining the fuel supply data for the country since January 2022, during a meeting with stakeholders in Abuja.
He announced that the queues being witnessed at filing stations across the nation would soon clear as the petroleum company has released about 67 million litres of PMS to marketers.
Explaining further how the fuel crisis came to being, Kyari said the moment NNPC goes down below 60 million litres of evacuation consistently for more than three days, there would be a crisis in the sector.
For him, there may be no valid consumption figure, but the evacuation figure is always known, stressing that anytime the evacuation figure goes below 60 million litres daily, crisis would be inevitable across the country.
He recalled when the company recorded the contaminated fuel in early 2022, saying that evacuation came down to 56 million litres on average and that was what caused a crisis then.
Normalcy was then returned, according to the Group Chief Executive Officer when the company ramps up by adding volumes to the market to fill the gaps.
Ever since then, Kyari said NNPC had done everything possible to keep the supply or evacuation above 60 million litres consistently, as he argued that there was no shortage of fuel going into the market, rather the products might be in the wrong destination.
Speaking on the smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries, Kyari said NNPC officials and oil marketers were responsible.
Kyari said the company has evidence that fuel was being smuggled out of Nigeria in marine containers and that some of its customers take investors to other countries.
While promising to investigate the illegal acts and get to the root of it, Kyari assured that appropriate government security agencies would deal with it.
He said there is cross-border smuggling, either in form of round-tripping or whatever name m, stressing that fuel leaves Nigeria through smugglers and thus creating scarcity in the country.
Meanwhile, with the release of the fresh 67 million litres to oil marketers to circulate across the nation, it was observed that long queues that had been the hallmark of most filing stations have been phasing out, even though the price is yet to reduce.
IMF Releases Fresh Economic Performance Ratings of Nigeria, Others
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its World Economic Outlook Update (January 2023) report where it gave detailed economic performance ratings of some countries and regions of the world.
In the report, IMF projected that Nigeria’s economic growth would reduce from 3.2 per cent in 2023 to 2.9 per cent in 2024.
However, owing to measures taken by the Federal Government to tackle oil pipelines’ vandalism and theft, the financial organisation disclosed that Nigeria’s economic outlook is better as it would grow from 3.0 per cent in 2022 to 3.2 per cent in 2023.
IMF had Also, this year’s 3.2 per cent growth projection is an upgrade from the lender’s previous 3.0 growth projection for the year in its October outlook report.
Investors King had reported that Nigeria started experiencing shortfall in its crude oil production when oil thieves and pipeline vandals started causing havoc at the nation’s oil regions. It was so bad that the production was as low as 0.937mbpd in September 2022.
But, in December, last year, the production increased to 1.235 million barrels per day.
Also predicting that the Nigeria’s economic growth would jump to three per cent this year, the United Nations said a strong commodities trade and active consumer goods and services markets would make the projection possible.
According to the international organisation, high inflation and epileptic power supply were affecting economic development in Nigeria.
Similarly, the World Bank postulated that the Nigerian economy would grow at 2.9 per cent this year, adding that the poor economic growth of 2.9 per cent in 2023 was barely above population growth.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has expressed optimism that it would grow the economy as high as 3.5 per cent this year, and that its efforts at tackling insecurity in oil production was yielding desired results.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the nation had to moderate its year projections to reflect the decline it suffered in 2022.
She said increase in revenue from the non-oil sector and and oil production boost would assist the country in meeting its 1.6 million barrels per day target in 2023.
The minister said the nation could achieve it and that the nation is currently producing between 1.25 million and 1.3 million per day
Making further projections, IMF said growth across sub-Saharan Africa would moderate at 3.8 per cent in 2023 amid prolonged fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The global money lender noted that power shortage is expected to reduce South Africa’s growth economy from 2.6 per cent in 2022 to 1.2 per cent in 2023.
The Washington-based lender explained that growth in the global economy would slow down in 2023 before regaining in 2024.
It attributed this to the global fight against inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
IMF further noted that growth would slow from 3.4 per cent in 2022 to 2.9 per cent in 2023, then rebound to 3.1 per cent in 2024.
The money lender compared it’s January forecast to that of October saying economic growth proved resilient in the third quarter of 2022 with strong labour markets, robust household consumption and business investment, and better-than-expected adaptation to the energy crisis in Europe.
Buhari Gets Lawmakers’ Nod to Borrow N1tn From CBN’s WMAs
President Muhammadu Buhari has obtained the approval of the House of Representatives, to access a fresh N1 trillion loan from the Ways and Means Advances (WMAs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Ways and Means Advances where the federal government can access funds is a loan facility by the CBN to finance the government during temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by law.
The President had in a letter he sent to the Senate and House of Representatives in December last year, requested the approvals of the National Assembly to its restructuring of N1tn WMAs, and another N22,719,703,774,306.90 loan from the CBN.
Upon reception of the letter, the duo of President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, read out Buhari’s request to members of their respective chambers and the lawmakers had debated it.
President Buhari had titled the letter, ‘Restructuring of Ways and Means Advances,’ and explained that WMAs by the apex bank to the Federal Government is a funding option that caters for short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government anticipated cash receipt of fiscal deficit.
Buhari had said that the WMAs balance as of December 19, 2022, is N23,719,703,774,306.90, adding that the N23.7tn loan would be repaid in forty years and that the moratorium on principal repayment is three years while the pricing interest rate is 9 per cent.
However, the House of Representatives during plenary on Tuesday okayed N1tn WMAs after receiving the recommendation by the Joint Committees on Finance; Banking and Currency; and Aids, Loans and Debts Management.
Because the report presented to the House by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Musa Abdullahi, sought further explanation and convictions from the presidency on N22.7tn loan, the lawmakers rejected Buhari’s request for N22,719,703,774,306.90.
The committee had said it approved the N1tn because of its observations and the exigencies of the Federal Government current fiscal situation,
Similarly, the Senate opposed to Buhari’s request for the loan despite earlier assurances of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to Buhari that the Senators would consider it.
Investors King had reported how CBN noted that the Federal Government’s excessive borrowing from the bank’s Ways and Means Advances (W&M) window could frustrate its monetary policy.
The apex bank had said that overdrafts due to the increasing reliance on the WMAs overdrafts would negatively impact its monetary policy.
Notwithstanding, the Federal Government had been running to the WMAs for any sign of budget deficit.
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