Tuesday night saw President Bola Tinubu’s return to Nigeria following a two-week private trip to Paris, France.
At around nine o’clock at night, the presidential aircraft, NAF 001, made landfall at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Top government officials, including Secretary to the Government of the Federation George Akume, National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Nyesom Wike, and Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila, received the President.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, and Yusuf Bichi, the Director-General of the Department of State Service, were also present on the receiving line.
The Nigerian leader was scheduled to return “in the first week of February 2024,” according to a statement announcing his departure on January 24, whereas the administration did not provide an explanation for the travel.
This was Tinubu’s fourteenth overseas journey since taking office eight months ago and his third visit to France.
He comes back in the midst of state-wide demonstrations over growing food and living expenses.
Monday and Tuesday saw furious women and young people protesting against what they saw to be the nation’s rising cost of living in the streets of Kano and Minna, the capital of Niger State. In Nigeria’s southwest state of Ondo State, comparable protests also broke out.
Muhammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, stated on Tuesday that Tinubu has ordered prompt actions to lessen the suffering and prevent a worsening of the security situation.
The minister spoke after a meeting of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention, chaired by the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
After Tuesday’s meeting, which is the first of a series of three, Mohammed told journalists, “It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians.
“What I will tell Nigerians is that the President has directed that government needs to step in to stem this tide. The government will not fold its arms and see how Nigerians are suffering regarding the availability of these food items.
“So, I want to plead with you to understand with the government. By the time these meetings are concluded, we’ll be able to issue a definite statement on the government’s position in this regard. But all I can say is that discussions are ongoing, and very soon, a solution is in sight for Nigerians.”
Idris, who argued that Nigeria was in no shortage of food, said the Federal Government was in talks with millers and major commodity traders to avail more supply, thereby reducing the price of some commodities.
He also alleged that some elements were taking advantage of the high food prices and the depreciation of the naira to wreak havoc.
“The government is also talking to major millers and major commodity traders, also to see what is available in their stores, to open it up so the government will provide some intervention, discuss with them, provide some intervention to make this food available to Nigerians.
“What the government is noticing is that actually there is still food in this country. Some people are taking advantage of the situation, especially because of the depreciation in the value of our currency, which has led to the cost of these food items also going up.
“So, all these issues were discussed…the National Security Adviser was there because this also has some national security implications. All these have been discussed,” the minister explained.