Outcry for the dwindling economic crisis experienced presently by Nigerians in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.
In his speech, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said, “There is a cry in the air that Nigerians are hungry and we hear them loud and clear. There are also unbelievable stories about people taking their children as human collateral for food with no intentions to pick them up.
“This situation in Nigeria today was going to happen; whether it is this administration or another. We headed this way a long time ago.
‘‘In 1986, we were forced to devalue and deregulate. We were forced to open our doors to importation. We began devaluing the naira. We have done it steadily for 30 years. We are now N400 to one dollar and we are told to continue devaluing; that devaluation will bring wonders. I don’t believe it.
“I hope we don’t hit N1,000 to $1 someday because the demand for dollars is $2.5bn a week and I have this from high authorities within the system.
“We simply don’t have it. We don’t print dollars, but the people are angry that we are not making dollars available. We became importers of rice; $5m a day; wheat, $6m a day; tomato paste, $400m a year; and $20bn a year on food.’’
One of the participants, the Vice-Chancellor of the Bingham University, Nasarawa State, Prof. Leonard Kursim-Fwa, expressed worry about the state of education, infrastructure deficiency and poor electricity, among others.
But a former Director-General of the National Mathematical Centre, Prof. Sam Ale, said electricity had improved since Fashola became the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
His remarks did not go down well with the people in the hall, as there were murmurings of disapproval.
Another participant asked Fashola why Nigeria continued to rely on gas for electricity when there were alternatives in hydro and coal.
Fashola responded that Zungeru and Mambilla hydro plants were being worked on.
He regretted that even though Mambilla was conceived in 1982 when he was 19 years old, the project had not been realized