By Michael Orodare
52-years old Olawunmi Fagbemi has not been a happy woman in the past 6-months. Neither does her status as a widow brings her sadness nor that she has three undergraduate children which she sponsors their education with her petty trade is the source of her unhappiness.
No thanks to the present economic woes of the nation which has brought untold hardship upon Nigerians and has jerked up prices of food items with little or no income to afford the food items. This has in no small measure brought starvation to the center stage in homes across the country, and Fagbemi’s home is not an exception.
DailyMail of UK reports few days ago how starvation is killing five children per hour every single day, with 250,000 people at risk, while famine is also making thousands of refugees to flee Nigeria.
“I have a son who is an undergraduate at the Adekunle Ajasin University, my daughter is also at the School of Nursing in Akure, while my youngest child attends a public secondary school. Taking care of the children and providing for their needs with my trade has not been very easy since I lost my husband the major financier of the family five years ago, but it has never been worse like this. In the last five months, eating two times in a day has become very difficult for me and my family. It got so worse that sometimes we only eat at nights” Fagbemi lamented with anger and sadness boldly written on her face. as her voice fades.
That Fagbemi could not afford three square meals a day for her children and meet their other needs give her sadness. She is not the only one in this sorry state; hunger is now the order of the day in the homes of millions of Nigerians across the nation. The hardship that has befallen the nation in the last 18-months is legendary. Reports of theft of food commodities are rising each day from different parts of the country.
“The hunger in the land has become so worse that many parents could not even afford a small cup of rice which sells for N50 to feed their children. Those who can afford it cannot repeat it three times in a day, while the three square meals a day has long become a thing of the past in many homes, many now flood parties either invited or uninvited to get food to eat and also take home to their family. It is that bad!” Opeyemi Akinbami, a primary school teacher stated.
The timely intervention of the Ondo State Government through the flag-off of its Eto Igbe Ayo Food Palliative programme brought succor to Fagbemi and an end to her months of hardship, as well as thousands of her likes in Ondo state, who are not exempted from the national hunger. Fagbemi was one of the first beneficiaries of the initiatives when it was flagged-off in July, and she was full of praises to the government for coming to the aid of the citizenry through the distribution of food items across the state.
The crux of the Eto Igbe Ayo food palliative programme is to supply food items to 100,000 women resident across the state. Eligibility to be a beneficiary is to be a holder of the Ondo multi-application smart card, the Kaadi Igbe Ayo. The essence of using the card is to ensure only residents of the state benefit from the initiative, because over the years when social services are put in place in Ondo state, residents of neighbouring states flood the state to hijack such initiative targeted at Ondo state residents, thereby shortchanging the residents who should be the direct beneficiaries.
No doubt the hunger in the land calls for emergency attention of any serious government to take action in order to salvage its citizen from starvation, and not pretend that all will be well after payment of workers’ salaries which is not even enough to feed the family again with this present condition of the country. One would not but agree with Governor Olusegun Mimiko that “hunger is a desperate situation that needs desperate attention” and this calls for the intervention of government in order to avert deaths in the land resulting from hunger, an offspring of a collapse economy.
It will not be out of place to state that it is only a government that understands the magnitude of the problem presently ravaging the land that can tackle it and proffer a solution the way the Mimiko-led government is doing in Ondo state with the food palliative programme, by not shying away from the fact that monthly salary alone could no longer meet the needs of the people.
As expected naysayers and the politically jaundiced have gone to town to ascribe political meanings to the laudable initiative which has also been adopted by the Oyo state government few weeks after it was initiated in Ondo state. If caring for the people and saving them from the throes of death is apolitical, then wouldn’t it be safe to ask that politics be played in this line? Rather than playing politics of destruction and falsehood.
Apolitical or not, Sulaiman Olayinka, a resident of Ikare-Akoko and an excited beneficiary of the food palliative programme, full of joy as she receives her portable bags of the food items, described the initiative as a great and commendable programme for the needy, “at this critical time when people are lamenting and dying of hunger, it is a great step by the government to secure the future of our children, it is when you eat that you and your family can live at peace, in good health and also think about how to give your children a better future.”
Omotadowa Roseline is another beneficiary who said she has always believed in the programmes of the State Government, noted that “I was so happy when I heard it on radio that the governor is distributing food items to those who have Kaadi Igbe Ayo, I knew it was real when it was announced and not a deceit. It will have a very great impact on the family, because presently many parents don’t even have any means to feed their children with a cup of rice.”
“I have never benefitted from government programme directly in this way before, we never knew that Kaadi igbe Ayo is so beneficial like this, we never knew it could bring food to our table at the time when there is hunger everywhere, my family is grateful to the Governor for this kindness” Grace Olanipekun
For Afe Christiana a resident of Akure, “things have been difficult in the country presently, we can only pray to God to help us. The Mimiko food palliative is timely and will go a long way in binging happiness into many homes, because presently there is sadness in many homes as a result of the harsh economic condition of the nation.”
Akingbohungbe Yemisi in Idanre also believes that the Eto Igbe Ayo food palliative programme “will really go a long way, and have great impact in the family, the Lord will also give the government peace of mind as they have decided to bring peace into our homes with this food palliative”
The good news for the people of Ondo state is that the Eto Igbe Ayo food palliative programme is not a one phase programme, Mimiko was quoted to have said at the flag-off of the programme that it is going to be a continuous programme to reach the largest number of people until things get better in the country.