From Okwe Obi, Abuja

Worried by the rampant attacks on warehouses and trucks conveying foodstuffs by hoodlums, as a result of the economic hardship, some experts have proffered solutions to the menace.



President, Nigeria Young Farmers Network, Abubakar Bamai Musa, urged the Federal Government to commence the immediate distribution of food items as promised some weeks ago.

Musa said the continuous attack on trucks or warehouses by hungry Nigerians could lead to crisis between hoodlums and owners of those properties.

According to him, the government should engage young people through job creation, especially in the area of agriculture.

He said: “The president has given an order for the distribution of grains. Where are the grains? Why is there a delay in the distribution of the grains?

“This is the kind of news that they will hear and when they realise that the grains is not coming down to them, they destroy warehouses. Their belief and mentality is that any warehouse that has food is a government-owned warehouse.

“They do not even want the government to bother distributing it; they have their way of distributing it. They do not want to know if it is meant for the government or not.

“I think if they are grains, the government should come out and share the grains to people.

“Basically, we need to assess these young people that are everywhere. What is even motivating them to go into vandalisation of warehouses and even attacking some trailers on the road and packing their goods is majorly the unemployment rate that is affecting everyone.

“These are energetic and talented youths that you can use them for good purposes. They can clear pieces of land and give them incentives. And with that nobody will go and vandalise warehouses.

“If you leave them like this and with the problem of insecurity, it will encourage them to go into destruction of warehouses. We need to see how we can engage them in a very good way.”

Also, Chairman of Eurobase Consult Limited, Don Ekesiobi, said the trend might not stop until Nigerians are properly fed.

“Warehouse destruction by people is hunger-induced. The trend may not stop until government takes a proactive by investing in agriculture and coming in to what we are doing now.

“Within one year a lot of criminality will be eliminated. Hunger and unemployment is the reason people are bursting into warehouses and stealing food where they think palliatives are kept in order to see something to eat.

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“Nobody wants to be a thief or wear the tag of a thief. You cannot bear hunger. You can bear anything but not hunger to a certain level.

“It is only for the government to pay serious attention to agriculture that can solve the problem. Firstly, it creates job, wealth and other thing,” he said.

He regretted that Nigeria topped the chart as the country that pays the highest for import tariff globally for the importation of agro-equipment when other countries subsidise to attract foreign investment.

He called on President Tinubu Ahmed Tinubu to remove import tariffs on agro-equipment to enable Nigeria achieve food sufficiency.

He lamented: “Nigeria pays the highest import duty or tariff in the world on agro-equipment.”

On the way out, he said: “But my appeal to the government is that as Mr. President has declared a state of emergency on food security, he should remove import tariffs on agro-equipment at least for sometime to enable Nigeria to balance very well in the quest for food security.

“The Federal Government should also make it easier for the clearance of these equipment.

“If government insists on collection of high import tariffs, the objective of achieving food security will not be realised.

“Agro-equipment takes high volume of space. If we ship three tractors, which are in one container, what the clearing agents are charging now is N15 million.

“This was the same agro-equipment we were paying N3 million about three years ago. After the clearing, who will buy it at this high cost?

“The government should immediately make zero import duty on agro-equipment to enable Nigeria to attain food security. The earlier the government does it, the better for everybody.”

Recall that in Niger State, a truck conveying foodstuffs was ambushed by hoodlums and items like rice, beans and groundnut oil were stolen.

Also, on March 3, a warehouse belonging to the Department of Agriculture, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), located at Gwagwa a suburb in Abuja, was raided and grains stolen. Aside that, the roofing sheets, doors and windows were removed.

A security man, Mohammed Sunusi, who was on duty, said the hoodlums overpowered him and his colleagues. According to him, the hoodlums were armed with cutlasses, sticks and iron rods to inflict bodily harm on anybody who dared to stop their operations.

Sunusi said: “We were offloading bags of grains. In fact, we were almost done offloading a trailer of grains before some hoodlums came and started claiming that the grains belonged to them.

“We resisted the attack. We chased them outside the premises. Our boss started calling security personnel to come over to assist because they had to regroup.

“They came with vehicles and stole our grains. The police came after the grains had been stolen. They threatened to harm me.”