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About Garba Shehu’s comment: Dear presidency, we work, but are still hungry! by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Sometimes, public officials make statements that make you wonder if they really think through the words that come out of their mouth, or the impact it would have. 

It seems that once people are placed in positions of power, they throw caution to the wind and assume that their new-found status confers on them the leeway to make all manner of derogatory and insulting statements without punishment or repercussion. 

We as a people have gotten accustomed to public officials making demeaning statements, that we really don’t put too much emotion into these occurrences. But every now and then, someone says something so outrageous, that you have no choice but to respond. 

Recently, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, was informed during an interview on Ben TV that people were complaining of hunger in the country; and he gave a very insensitive reply. He stated: “Everyone complaining of hunger should go and work!” Just like that, he blurted the words out. And since then, there has been no remorse shown whatsoever! Does Mr Shehu think that the people complaining of hunger are all idling about and looking for freebies? 

Does he think they are all waiting for manna to fall from heaven or for someone to leave them a huge chunk of his wealth? Whatever gives him the impression that the millions of people who go to bed hungry every night have no jobs? Nigerians are by nature, hardworking people. 

All around, people are hustling on a daily basis, just to keep body and soul together. Everywhere you look, the young and old are working tirelessly. Old men and women who should be spending their final days resting are out there doing all manner of jobs under the sun. Young people are doing same…educated and uneducated, they are trying to make ends meet. Sadly, even little children who should be in school have found themselves hawking on the streets of every state in the federation; their childhoods deprived. Too many of these children have lost their lives in the process of hustling - ritualists and kidnappers have made our young children an endangered species, right before our eyes! Now, I know that there are some bad eggs that would rather leach off other people instead of working with their own hands. Some have even taken to a life of crime; dispossessing others of their hard earned resources. 

However, for the most part, majority of Nigerians are doing hard, honest work, in a bid to survive. Yet, this is not always enough. Before Mr Shehu opened his mouth to make that statement, he should have asked himself: “How much is the minimum wage?” Well, incase Shehu has forgotten, let me remind him. It is just N18,000. Now, how far can N18,000 go in a month, for an average individual and his/her family? For a man who has, say 3 children, a wife, siblings, parents, what can that minimum wage really do? 

A Derica of rice is N300 and a bucket of garri is N900. A sachet of salt is between N80 and N150, and a tuber of yam can sell as high as N800. 5 litres of palm oil goes for around N2,200 and even a carton of noodles ranges around N1,800 and N2,000, depending on the flavor. 

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