Hardship: US-based economist urges food bank, balance of wealth distribution

* Blames country’s problems on past economic ineptitude

By Nudoiba Ojen

An Economist based in Atlanta, United States of America, Dr Titus Olowokere, has advocated for a large-scale Food Bank where wealthy individuals and big time companies can contribute for onward distribution to vulnerable persons as a way out of the present hunger and hardship facing Nigerians.

Olowokere, who is the President/Chief Executive Officer of the United States-Nigeria Trade Council based in Atlanta, USA, explained that such a Food Bank would stem the current uneven distribution of wealth and create a balance of wealth needed for an equitable society.

Consequently, the economist advised the government to urgently set up the huge Food Bank and step up more release of grains and other food items currently locked in warehouses across the country to allow Nigerians who are not economically positioned to keep alive during this period.

He spoke on the topic, “Nigeria in the Throes of Hardship, Hunger and Economic Realities – What Are The Quick Fixes and Sustainable Solutions?” during  the 17th edition of the popular monthly interview discourse, Boiling Point Arena.

Boiling Point Arena programme is a brainchild of Dr Ayo Arowojolu, a Media Professional and Public Relations Strategist, streamed via Zoom and transmitted live on a radio station, SWEET 107.1FM.

Olowokere, however, counselled Nigerians “to stop their fondness for parties and pepper soup. Our people should look inwards and watch what is consuming their money and prioritize their spendings. Our youths should use their skills to do more odd jobs and generally diversify”.

He said that although present hardship in Nigeria was ignited by the fuel subsidy removal, the challenges being faced by the country “is a convolution of economic ineptitude over time”.

Olowokere, who said that the country’s economy had been battered before Tinubu got to office, said, “While I am not holding brief for Tinubu, I am of the opinion that when he was running for election, he didn’t have the full view. He didn’t know the level of the rot”.

The economist said, “Dynamics of economics in Nigeria did not make us to be surprised at the level of hunger and anger in the country. Nigeria was already going towards edge of a precipe. Most of the crude oil has been sold forward during the Muhammadu Buhari regime. Our crude resources have been pledged as collateral for loans that were received

“Secondly, the Tinubu government met very lean treasury. Whatever we are producing cannot sustain us. We are generating so much from nothing. We are spending a lot of money to address our debts.

“Nigeria has not been addressing non-oil revenue. About 97 per cent of our earnings is derived from oil revenue. This is not sustainable and our exchange rate has not helped, same as our currency. Very heavy reliance on forex and pump price of petrol have skyrocketed with implications on cost of transportation for agricultural produces and high food prices.”

Olowokere, who said that the country’s problems have mounted from “economic ineptitude” over time, said, “This is not a Tinubu issue, but it is a Nigeria issue. It is a policy deficient policy issue, a conglomeration of factors that have put us to where we are today. It is an issue that everyone has been responsible for and it should not be about any blame game”.

A frontline traditional ruler, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Prof Saka Matemilola, was the keynote speaker at the event in his capacity as Chairman, Boiling Point Council for Royals and Elders.

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