from malnutrition in Nigeria, but the country
doesn't have the resources to tackle the
– The international communities say Nigeria is
in need of $164 million in humanitarian funding
to prevent thousands of deaths from
– 50,000 children may die before the end of
– But according to managers of Nigeria's
economy, the country is in technical recession
"Where do I go from here? I have lost everything
after all these years of labour. I can't believe my
eyes, could this be real?" Pius soliloquised after
running the race of his life.
Like an artist, he had painted a gloomy picture
of a catastrophe as he watched his shop razed
in fire, following an attack by gunmen.
The gunmen suspected to be dreaded members
of Boko Haram sect, invaded the Bulabulin ward
of Biafara area in Maiduguri, Borno state, and
opened fire on civilians.
Many were caught by stray bullets as several
shops and residential buildings were razed.
Boko Haram fighters
Although Pius survived the ugly incident, his
small shop stocked with building materials, was
brought down to ashes.
"This is exactly four years, I and my family
relocated from Maiduguri back to our village in
"It has been hard for us after we lost all our
properties in Borno due to serial killings of people
and attack by Boko Haram," Pius told NAIJ.com
Recounting his ordeal as he struggled to steel
himself not to cry, Pius said: "The morning of
July 15, 2012, was when it all started.
"I was about to open my shop, when gunmen
stormed our area and started shooting
"As I ran, I saw many dead bodies lying in front
of different shops as the gunmen set many
"Till today, I don't know how I was able to survive
that horrible experience."
Pius is one of the many people of Igbo
descents who escaped death from the hands of
the dreaded members of Boko Haram sect in
According to him, Borno state has been worst
hit by the crisis as many Igbo traders and
businessmen have withdrawn all their
businesses from the state.
He said that not only as the state suffered
damages worth billions in housing alone, it has
also suffered huge damage in terms of livestock
which brings about the need to restore
agriculture in the state.
His assertion looks to have been confirmed by
Laolu Akande, the senior special assistant to
the vice-president on media and publicity, who
said Borno state suffered a loss of $6billion
naira between 2011 and 2015.
According to Akande, at least 20,000 people
were killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria between
the four years.
Akande also said that about 1.8 million people
were displaced from their towns and villages by
But as days go by, the number of displaced
persons soars. Unfortunately, the on-going fight
between Nigeria's military and the Boko Haram
insurgency is the main reason for the growing
Today, there are over 2 million internally
displaced persons (IDPs), mostly women and
children, from the insurgency in northeast
Nigeria, according to figures from the Nigerian
Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
But despite the growing numbers of IDPs, the
Nigerian military have continued to hunt the
Boko Haram fighters as they look to set more
hostages free from the terrorists.
However, with recent reports of food shortage
in camps for IDPs, there is hullabaloo going on
within and outside the country.
Nigeria on the brink of famine
If reports by the international medical
humanitarian organization Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is
anything to go by, then Northeast Nigeria could
well be on the brink of famine.
According to MSF, food shortages in the camp
for IDPs in Borno state has resulted to
starvation, acute malnutrition and deaths.
More devastating is the report that a
humanitarian catastrophe is underway in the
war-torn Borno state, where at least 500,000
people are in urgent need of food, medical care,
water, and shelter.
A malnourished child
Boko Haram members, who have flooded the
area, are to be blamed for the impending crisis.
The terrorist group has destroyed planting and
marketplaces, killed more than 20,000 people
and rendered over 2million people homeless.
In a statement by Toby Lanzer, the U.N.'s
regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel,
"4.4 million people in Northeast Nigeria are
severely food insecure, but the country doesn't
have the resources to tackle this problem alone."
Lanzer says Nigeria is in need of $164 million in
humanitarian funding to prevent thousands of
deaths from malnutrition, even as he urged
international donors need to step in to stop
thousands of deaths from malnutrition.
He said: "We've got as many as 250,000 children
in the northeast of Nigeria who are severely
acutely malnourished and we could lose up to
50,000 children before the end of the year if we
don't scale up right now."
Recession hits Nigeria's economy as famine
The famine in the northeast can be traced to
global fall in the price of oil, Nigeria's top
export. This has led to significant revenue
shortfalls for the country.
The country has also been hard-hit by militant
attacks on its petroleum infrastructure that have
dropped production from around two million
barrels per-day to about 1.5 million barrels.
Over the last 4 decades, the nation has largely
operated a mono-economy as every facet of life
rides on the exchange rate and price of a single
product – crude oil.
Nigeria depends on crude exports for 70% of
government revenue and some 90% of its
foreign exchange earnings.
What is even more devastating is that the
country may be in technical recession.
IDPs in camp
According to Senator Udo Udoma, the minister
of Budget and National Planning, if Nigeria
experiences a negative growth in the second
quarter just like it did in the first, then the
country will be in technical recession.
He said: "Recession is basically when you have
two quarters of negative growth. We had a first
quarter of negative growth and we are still waiting
to get all the figures for the second quarter which
has just ended in June.
"The National Bureau of Statistics will be giving
us all the figures but if as we suspect, the second
quarter is also negative, then of course technically
you could say that we are in recession if those
figures turned out to be so.
"But even if we are not, the situation in the
economy right now is one that of course we are
Confirming Udoma's assertion, a seemingly
sober Godwin Emiefiele, the CBN governor,
recently told Nigerian senators that if the
present situation in the country continued, the
federal government might not be able to pay
salaries of its workers with effect from October
He also said Nigerians would be forced to pay
general taxes which would not exclude
The CBN governor told the senators that it was
frightening that the nation was experiencing
economic stagnation and inflation at the same
But as the ugly reality sets in for Nigeria's
economic managers, the fiscal situation has
shown that the country is stretched and may be
forced to run to the international communities,
to avert cases of severe malnourishment and
deaths in IDP camps.
IDPs dying of malnutrition in camps
Last month, Governor Kashim Shettima of
Borno state paid a visit to Bama camp upon
receiving reports that hundreds of malnourished
people recently rescued from Boko Haram
captivity were dying in the camp.
After seeing the critical condition of the
refugees, Shettima ordered the relocation of 61
children with acute malnutrition to the intensive
care unit of the Umaru Shehu Ultramodern
Hospital in Maiduguri, where they are currently
A child looks ill in IDP camp
Another group of more than 400 people with
lesser cases of malnutrition were also moved
out of the camp to a special care unit for
proper feeding and medication.
But according to a statement by the MSF,
nearly 200 refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks
have starved to death over the past months in
Angered by the reported cases of malnourished
children and dying IDPs in Bama camp,
President Muhammadu Buhari, met with top
officials of the state government, seeking
explanation into the issue.
Soon after the meeting, report had emanated
that Buhari called for a probe on the alleged
diversion of relief materials meant for IDPs.
Governor Shettima of Borno state also directed
the police and the state security services to go
after the officials involved in the alleged
diversion of relief materials, after a video clip
and pictures surfaced on social media showing
bags of rice purportedly from NEMA being re-
bagged by officials of the Borno State
Emergency Management Agency.
Can Nigeria breathe hope into the success of
Nigeria has a system for dealing with health
crisis, which has worked quite well in the past.
Although the issue of malnutrition is not only
shortage of food, but also the issues of disease
and lack of clean water, the Nigeria health
system had faced more severe issues in the
Ebola healthcare workers
The last health crisis Nigeria had to face was
Ebola, and the government was effective at
eradicating the illness. That is an indication
that success against the Northeast's impending
famine could be achieved, if the government
address this huge humanitarian need the same
way it did with Ebola.
If the government can take responsibility for
dealing with the IDPs according to international
best practices, Nigeria will attract more foreign
assistance and collaboration.
And with support from humanitarian groups and
donors, the impending famine crisis in the
northeast can effectively be eradicated.