Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Tinubu Policies Worsen Food Insecurity

According to World Food Summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. “Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern.”

By Eko John Nicholas

Therefore, “food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above”! Achieving food security underscores the need for government investments in increasing agricultural production and agro value chains. This entails seriously paying special attention and interest to all facets of the agriculture sector to counteract food insecurity, which, sadly, is the present material reality faced by the majority of ordinary people in neo-colonial countries like Nigeria.

Food insecurity is a recipe for both socio-political and economic crises including the farmers-herders crisis; youth restiveness and unemployment; diseases and infant mortalities; rising food inflation and cost of living crisis; rural and urban migrations; low income and poverty for majority; among others.

Therefore, food security must be regarded and treated as a matter of public good and social policy of national importance by governments. There must be policies and programmes that make agriculture attractive and high yielding, guaranteeing food sufficiency, availability, accessibility and affordability. These programmes and policies must entail subsidies on farm inputs, low/single digit interest loans to farmers, regular electricity, good roads, government buy back, compensations in disaster emergencies among other incentives to boost agricultural yields.

Besides, agricultural production especially in the neo-colonial world is highly dependent on nature and its vagaries, thereby prone to risks occasioned by natural disasters, especially extreme weather conditions worsened by climate change, like floods, droughts, desertification etc., which pose threats to food security. Mitigating this requires massive state investments, and consequent revolution in agriculture and it value chains by deploying modern techniques and technologies.

However, in Nigeria, the rabid character of the capitalist ruling elites, and their wholesale adoption of the IMF/World Bank induced neo-liberal anti-poor policies have meant   subsidy removals on farm inputs; privatization of state owned assets including fertilizer and electricity companies and the attendant high costs of agrochemicals and erratic supply of power/high tariffs; commercialization of storage facilities and strategic grain reserves; lack of investments in farm machinery and infrastructure facilities including irrigation system; lack of investments in research and development; access to soft loans with single digit interest rate for agrofinancing; etc. As a result, the majority of poor farmers including those in rural  communities who constitute over 75 per cent of smallholder farmers and responsible for over 65 per cent of agricultural outputs are heavily burdened with poor conditions of working and living. But the rich corporate companies involved in agricultural production, processing, agro inputs supplies etc. enjoy government patronages in form of incentives, including direct handouts, tax reliefs, duty waivers, monopolies at the expense of poor farmers!

Deceptively, the successive governments whose anti-poor capitalist policies pose serious threats to food security at the same time always grandstand on the need for the country’s attainments of food security and supposedly declare state of emergency on the same!


According to the Punch Newspaper (13th July 2023), President Bola Tinubu has declared a state of emergency on food security. Tinubu also approved that all matters pertaining to food and water availability and affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.

Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Dele Alake, disclosed this to State House Correspondents on Thursday evening after consultations with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Alake said “We will immediately release fertilizers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal.”

There’s no other confirmation and admission of the culpability of the Tinubu anti-poor policies in the growing   food insecurity, despite attempts to parry it with tokenistic handouts of the planned fertilizer and grain, other than the above quoted report by the Punch newspaper!

In the first place, it’s sheer hypocrisy by the Tinubu government to claim to be interested in guaranteeing food security, while it has already callously removed petrol subsidy with multiplier adverse effects on sustainable agriculture production, development and agro value chains.

Secondly, the plan to purportedly mitigate the harsh economic and social effects of subsidy removal with the said distribution of grain and fertilizer would only be creating other conduits through the private sector to enrich few individuals that are close to power, who will secure contracts to supply these products that may never get to the purported beneficiaries!

As at today, all the 33 strategic grain reserve complexes and 48 warehouses built and owned by the federal government have been concessioned to private individuals and companies for a period of over ten (10) years and none currently under the control of the government!

In addition, the Federal Superphosphate Fertilizer Company (FSFC), one of the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa located in Kaduna, that was producing urea fertilizer, sulphuric acid and water treatment chemical, sold to private individuals who have now turned it into a warehouse! The National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NACON) located in Eleme in Port Harcourt, River state, costing the government over $800million, for the production of high grade quality fertilizer was sold at a giveaway for $150 million to a company known as O-Secul Nigeria Limited, and is today known as Notore Chemical Industry.

We call for renationalisation of these privatized national assets, with compensation only on the basis of proven need, and placing same under democratic control and management of elected representatives of workers and poor farmers. This should be the irreducible minimum and starting point, if the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration is truly interested in food security and not just profit for the few rich elites and business cronies.


As stated above, even the government has recognized, albeit with tongue in cheek, that its anti-poor policy of fuel subsidy removal is currently biting hard on poor Nigerians. The negative consequences of this, and other, attacks are even more pronounced in the agricultural sector and the agro value chains. This has led to spike in food inflation and the ravaging cost of living crisis being experienced by workers and the poor majority. For instance, in the past few weeks tomatoes and pepper have been priced out of the reach of ordinary people. This partly is due to the havoc wreaked on the crop (tomatoes) by pest disease known scientifically as Tuta Absuluta (tomatoes leafleaners), same infection that ravaged the crop in 2016. However, the scarcity is largely due to fuel subsidy removal, which made it difficult and expensive to transport the products from up north to southern states, due to high cost of transportation, as the cost of transport has tripled.

In livestock farming especially aquaculture (fish farming), where petrol is largely used to power water pumping machines, it has become difficult for the fish farmers to buy fuel to pump out their polluted water and pump in fresh one. This is occasioned by the high cost of petrol, which means that a 40*80 sized pond of about 5(five) feet deep that would ordinary require less than N6,000 to pump out and in, now require more than N16,000 to accomplish the same task! This has increased the cost of production, and made many fish farmers to sell off their fishes prematurely, and close shops. The few remaining are presently switching to the use of gas (CNG) as the cost of gas seems relatively cheaper compared to petrol.

However, the use of CNG has also come with its own challenge, aside the danger gas explosions constitute to individual farmers and the community, the price of CNG Carburetor, a device for converting petrol to gas, has also hit the roof, and now beyond the capacity of ordinary farmers! Before the fuel subsidy removal, the device was sold for less than N8,000. Presently, it goes for more than N30,000 and not readily available! To make matters worse, the fish farmers currently face other existential threats, arising from same fuel hike, including lack/low patronage due to low purchasing power resulting from the high cost of living crisis; high cost of transportation; increments in cost feeding; high cost of electricity etc. All these have led to a situation where majority of poor fish farmers have abandoned their ponds, thereby posing serious threats to food security.

The poultry farmers have not fared better. They experienced a debilitating egg glut recently arising from the naira swap crisis, leading to low patronage and the consequent destruction of tens of thousands of eggs. While the trauma still lingers, the fuel subsidy removal has compounded the woes of poultry farmers, and majority of them are struggling to stay afloat. The crop farmers are not finding it easier either. By and large, these policies of the Tinubu government mean that in no distant time, the present cost of living crisis and food inflation would be further exacerbated if nothing is done to rein and push back attacks from this government.


It’s crystal clear that the Tinubu administration is hell-bent on asphyxiating the poor masses including smallholder farmers, the feigned concerns for the sufferings occasioned by the implementation of anti-poor policies notwithstanding. The mouthing of food security is a ruse and a decoy to continue to unleash unbridled attacks on the ordinary people. Therefore, if the farmers and workers across the agricultural value chains wish to survive with their businesses, then, they must be prepared to organize independently as farmers for a mass resistance. In addition, the ordinary farmers must also be willing to get involved in a broad movement with other workers across sectors, the civil society organizations, trade unions, etc. Such a movement must organize protest and struggle against petrol subsidy removal and other anti-poor capitalist policies and for adequate state investments in agriculture to guarantee agricultural jobs and food security.

Above all, these independent and collective struggles must be linked with demand and need for the formation of working people alternative political party, with socialist transformation of the society as its core mandate, through a government really representing working people carrying out the nationalization of the big multinational agro companies and commanding sectors of the economy, placing same under the democratic control and management of the working class. This is in order to plan production, distribution and consumption to meet the needs of all, including food security, employment etc, that’s presently a tall dream to achieve under this unjust, profit motivated capitalist system.