Two days after protesters stormed the streets of Minna, Niger State capital, over the rising cost of living, another set of protesters have hit the streets of Suleja, still in Niger.
Suleja is just a few kilometres away from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The protesters called on the President Bola Tinubu to end the hardship because they were suffering.
They wielded placards with inscriptions such as “Tinubu, Do Something Now!”; “Leadership Is All About Improving Lives”; “Nigerians Are Suffering”; “Stop The Hardship Now”, among others.
A group of women had blocked the Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu roundabout to express their grievances over the rising cost of food items.
People travelling to major cities in the South such as Lagos, Ibadan, among others, were held hostage for hours due to the protest, which started as early as 7am.
The women were later joined by men and youths who accuse governments of turning deaf ears to their plights.
Neither the thick smoke of the teargas and the sound of the gunshots fired by police operatives to disperse them nor the plea by the deputy governor of the state, Yakubu Garba, who went to the scene of the protest calmed the protesters.
They booed the government’s envoy, saying that they were tired.
A housewife, Aisha Jibrin, who led her fellow women to barricade the streets at Kpakungu roundabout, told Daily Trust that: “We embarked on this protest because of the rising cost of living. The government is not doing anything for us. The government should pity us. Some of us woke up this morning without anything to eat.”
Another protester, Musulumi Mikaila, said the rising cost of living had caused many broken homes, adding that many husbands were becoming overstressed because their salaries could no longer cater for their families.
“We don’t have a stable power supply; we don’t have water; the cost of food items is high. Nothing is working in this country. We voted for this government with the hope that poor citizens would get relief from hardship, but things are getting worse day and night,” she said.
She said many people were in hospitals not to treat serious ailments but due to stress, high blood pressure and trauma arising from hardship and rising cost of living.
Another woman who simply identified herself as Mrs Asabe said they embarked on the protest because women bore the brunt of everything. The protesting women said social vices, especially prostitution are on the increase due to hardship that forced many husbands to divorce their wives.
One of the men who joined the protest, Ibrahim Gana, said a measure of rice was sold at N2,000 at Minna markets while maize was N1,000.
“The cost of living is too high. If you go to the market today and buy something, tomorrow you will just hear that the price has gone up”, he said.
Former National Vice Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North West, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, has asked President Bola Tinubu to ignore the mass protests over high cost of living at his peril.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Tuesday convened an emergency meeting over the protests.
The meeting which was presided over by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila in his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, expressed President Tinubu’s worry over the development.
The Minister, who said that there is enough food in the country, added that some elements are trying to take advantage of the high food prices and the depreciation of naira to cause havoc.
He said, “We just rounded off a meeting. It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians.
“This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow. The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what has happened in Minna yesterday, and therefore government is taking some action to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of the availability of food on the table.
“Of course, this meeting is not by itself exhaustive. It’s just like I said, the beginning. It is going to continue tomorrow and the day after.
“Now, some of these will involve unlocking the foods that are available in most of the storage facilities (National Food Reserve) around the country. You know that the Federal Minister of Agriculture has some food reserve. That is going to be made available to Nigerians.”