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Hardship: FG’s reform agenda worsening situation — Catholic Bishops

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The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has said the reform agenda of President Bola Tinubu has added to the plight of the citizens and worsening their conditions.

President of the CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, said this at the formal opening of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the CBCN at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Resource Centre, Abuja, on Sunday.

The programme had as its theme, ‘Synod on Synodality: Areas of Concern for the Church in Nigeria’.

Ugorji said with the end of the fuel subsidy regime and the unification of the foreign exchange market, there has been a significant increase in the pump price of petroleum products and a steep decline in the value of the naira, thus increasing the hardship experienced by Nigerians.

Ugorji said rising inflation has made it difficult for average Nigerian to access basic commodities, including food items and medication.

“The reform agenda of the present government has added to the plight of Nigerians.

“With the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and the unification of the foreign exchange market, there has been a sharp increase in the pump price of petroleum products and a steep decline in the value of the naira. Indeed, there is a free fall in the national currency.

“As a result of the government’s reform agenda, millions of Nigerians have been reduced to a life of grinding poverty, wanton suffering, and untold hardship as never before in our national history.

“In a bid to survive, an increasing number of the poor have resorted to begging. With more than 80m Nigerians living below the poverty line of less than two dollars a day, our country, according to the recent disclosure of the World Bank, is the world’s second-largest poor population after India.

“While many impoverished Nigerians continue to suffer and die as a result of the hardship caused by the government’s economic reforms, the president has continued to urge the populace to make even more and more sacrifices with the assurance that brighter days lay ahead,” Ugorji said.

The CBCN President noted that as the government demands additional sacrifice from the struggling masses, Nigerians are expecting to see a drastic cut in the cost of running the government at all levels.

He said, “On the contrary, it is worrisome to watch top government functionaries live by the sweat, toil, and tears of the poor. They continue to spend huge public funds on ostentatious and luxurious lifestyles and seem incapable of feeling compassion for the outcry of the poor.

“It is no less worrisome to note that corruption among many public servants has gone beyond scale and measure. Corruption is a complex reality involving moral rottenness, defilement, and loss of integrity,” he reiterated.

On insecurity, Ugorji said despite the huge sums of money appropriated monthly as security votes, communities have continued to experience persistent insecurity.

He said recently that there has been an upsurge in kidnapping for ransom and increasing incidents of senseless bloodshed across the nation.

“Unarmed citizens are brutally slaughtered on our highways, in their homes, and even in the sacred precincts of places of worship. Killer herdsmen, bandits, and unknown gunmen seem to be on the rampage.

“Many communities across the nation have been taken over completely by criminals. Families have lost their ancestral lands to armed invaders and land-grabbers. The social and economic lives of communities have been paralysed due to insecurity.

“Schools have been shut down, and children can no longer continue their education. Farmers are unable to access their farms out of fear of either losing their lives or being kidnapped,” he said.

(Daily Trust)

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Bandits Abduct Fouani MD, 3 Others ….Demand $1.5m Ransom

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Armed men, on Friday, abducted the Managing Director of Fouani Company, which represents LG and Hisense, along with three Lebanese while travelling by boat in Lagos, PUNCH Online reports.

Although the names of the victims have not been ascertained, it was learnt that they were abducted around Falomo Bridge while traveling from Apapa to Victoria Island.

A source familiar with the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of its sensitive nature, told PUNCH Online that the kidnappers had reached out, demanding ransom.

“Yesterday (Friday) evening, the Managing Director of Fouani company (LG and Hisense) and three Lebanese were kidnapped around Falomo Bridge while traveling from Apapa to Victoria Island by boat.

“The kidnappers have asked for $1.5m,” the source said.

When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the development.

“Yes, it is true. We got the report and we are looking into it. Please, I’m not obliged to state more than that,” he simply said.

When our correspondent asked about the details of the names of the abducted persons, Hundeyin insisted, “I’m not obliged to state the names, when, where and how it happened for now but we are looking into it.”

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SEE Pictures from the National prayers session organised by the national Hajj commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

SEE Pictures from the National prayers session organised by the national Hajj commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)

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Group raises alarm over looming food shortage in Southwest

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..… calls on govt to provide security, incentives to farmers

By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

A Yoruba socio-political group, Yoruba Commitment Forum (YCF) has raised an alarm about the looming food shortage in the South West region of the country.

The group said, though, the impending food insecurity is a national crisis, stressing that its impact on Yorubaland is going to be calamitous.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by Otunba Hon Tayo Onayemi, Barr. Akeem Aponmade,

Barr. Femi Mokikan, Otunba Niyi Sodiya, Mrs. Buky Tunde Oshunrinde and Mrs. Sola Maja, and made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

The YCF attributed the looming food shortage to the invasion and destruction of farmlands by rampaging Fulani herders.

The group, while calling for adequate security of farmers and their farmlands, equally appealed to the federal government to adequately compensate whose farmlands were destroyed and as well give them financial incentives, to encourage them to go back to farm.

The statement titled, “Nigeria’s headaches, food insecurity in Yorubaland”, read, “we have observed that for about seven years now, Fulani herdsmen have been engaging in a relentless destruction of farmlands and settlements in Yorubaland. These criminal Fulani elements resorted to kidnapping, raping, maiming and killing of farmers and Yoruba sons and daughters.

“Neither the governments at any level, nor Fulani herdsmen’s apologists would claim ignorance of the atrocious activities of these ruthless people. Video recordings of their wicked actions suffuse the internet. The end result is that farmers began to be scared off their farms gradually until now when farms have been completely abandoned.

“When this started years ago, foresighted individuals raised concerns; they warned about the potential danger of food insecurity beginning with rising food prices and the need to ensure a stable food supply. It appears that Southwest was deliberately targeted and the invasion of our farmlands was the execution of a conscious plan to starve our people to death.

“We, the Yoruba Nation agitators, cried out for help against the brazen onslaught, but none came from the federal government led by a Fulani man.

“Unfortunately, the hens have now come home to roost as the consequences of our action, and inaction, are now here for real with food shortages and very high prices making it increasingly difficult for our people to access the basic necessity of food.

“Before the current situation spirals out of control, we hasten to inform the government that there is no alternative to large scale farming which Fulani herdsmen have destroyed by waging a war against farmers. Subsistence farming through the backyards, as good as it is, cannot serve the purpose of assuring any people of food security. Farmlands in the South West must be made very safe.

“We state emphatically that the situation whereby a basket of tomatoes is sold for #4000 in the North while the same is sold in Yorubaland for #150,000 is callous, ruthless and unacceptable to us.

We also call for assistance to use cheaper rail transport among others to assist our market men and women. Other regions do this, why not here in Yorubaland?

“Secondly, governments must incentivise farmers whose investments have been destroyed during the war of attrition waged against them by Fulani terrorists. Without government’s financial assistance, there is no way most farmers will be able to go back to farming, even if security of their lives and new investments are assured”, the statement concluded.

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