Obi laments tragic death of seven Nigerians in stampede at customs’ subsidized rice sale


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Labour Party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has voiced his distress over the tragic loss of seven Nigerians who perished during a stampede at a subsidized rice sale conducted by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The NCS had initiated a plan to distribute confiscated food items from smugglers to Nigerians as a measure to alleviate the nation’s economic hardship. However, the initiative, which commenced on Friday, unfortunately led to a stampede and the subsequent loss of lives of some citizens who were trying to benefit from the program.

In response to the tragic incident, the NCS has indefinitely halted its rice distribution program in Lagos.

In a post on Monday, Obi expressed his heartbreak over the fact that Nigerians are risking their lives in a desperate attempt to secure affordable food amidst the escalating hunger and starvation in the country.

The former Anambra State Governor stated that this tragic event underscores the widespread hardship, hunger, and starvation in the country, with countless individuals uncertain about their next meal.

Obi lamented the dismal state of the national economy, which he believes is perhaps the worst in the country’s history. He urged the government to spearhead the fight against hunger by making substantial investments in the agricultural sector and called on security agencies to ensure the safety of farmers.

In his words, “Just yesterday, I read the disheartening reports of how the pursuit of affordable rice led to the loss of Nigerian lives in Lagos. A large crowd of famished Nigerians had gathered at the Nigerian Customs Service’s Zonal Office in Yaba, Lagos, to buy the discounted 25kg bags of rice on offer by the Customs Service.

“During the ensuing stampede, lives were tragically lost. It is heartbreaking to think that despite our nation’s wealth, millions of people are unsure about their next meal. It is deeply disconcerting that our national economy has been driven into perhaps the worst state in our history.

“The number of individuals classified as multi-dimensionally poor has skyrocketed to over 80% of our population. Our hunger index is considered very serious, with Nigeria ranking 109th out of 125 countries measured.

“Our food inflation rate is at a record high, over 35 percent. Unemployment is also on the rise, posing a dire and alarmingly dangerous scenario for our predominantly youthful population.

“For the first time in our peacetime history, stark, undisguised hunger has become a national epidemic, with hundreds of thousands of our people driven into open protests over food scarcity and unaffordability. The hunger protests have united our people across ethnicity, language, region, faith, and location.

“What is most distressing is that in all our adversity, our leaders have resorted to spending enormous amounts of resources on wasteful items like ordering expensive renovations of offices and residences that are already in luxurious conditions.

“We have seen our government spend more money on car parks for politicians than for the running of half of our teaching hospitals. In all this, there has been scanty attention to the living conditions of the ordinary people they were elected to care for.

“The vast amounts of borrowed resources that should have been channeled into production, especially food production, to ensure an abundant supply of food in the nation, were instead consumed on trivialities, rather than invested. As I have always said, our biggest assets are our people. Now is the time to put them first.”


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