Nigeria First Lady Pastor Tinubu urges wealthy to support poor, as students die in stampede at food distribution

By CDI Staff |
First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Oluremi Tinubu
Nigeria's First Lady, Pastor Oluremi Tinubu. | John Lamparski/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Amidst widespread Hunger across Nigeria, the country’s First Lady, Pastor Remi Tinubu, has said while the Nigerian government is making efforts to implement humane policies towards ameliorating poverty induced suffering, Nigerians should remember that “the poor will always be in the country” just as Jesus said. She also urged Nigerians to help each other.

Tinubu, the wife of Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, highlighted the policies that the Nigerian government has been implementing to curtail the widespread hunger and poverty in the land that has caused restiveness across the country in recent times.

Tinubu said Nigerians shouldn’t be unmindful of the fact that the poor will always be in the land, and urged those with means to support and help the poor. Quoting the Bible, she stated that Jesus knew about this and therefore called for social ministering to the poor in the society.

Referring to Matthew 26:11, Tinubu said, “You know, I believe in social development and social investment for people who truly need it. And, in the Bible, in the times of Jesus, he said the poor you will always have in the land, and it’s for people whom God has blessed to help the poor.”

“We need to look into how to help our people to ameliorate this time. There are better days ahead. But my advice is I don’t want people to get used to handouts. Nigerians, we can help each other,” Tinubu added.

Tinubu’s treatise on the poor is coming at the same time as some University students died and others were injured on Friday, 22 March, 2024, in the town of Keffi in Nasarawa State, Central Nigeria, during a stampede at a food collection center at the Nasarawa State University.

Initial reports by eyewitnesses spoke of eight students who died, while later media reports spoke of seven and then corrected the number to two students. It was later clarified that some of the students who were presumed dead were unconscious and could be taken into hospital care.

Sam Bala, a student at the institution who witnessed the stampede, said in a message to Christian Daily International that the students died while scrambling to collect rice sent to the institution for distribution to provide some relief to the suffering students by the Nasarawa State Government.

“The students of the Nasarawa State University in Keffi died on Friday in a rush to collect food being shared with students. Rose, a Christian student in the fourth year, is among the students who died. Also twenty-three other students were injured during the stampede. The bodies of the dead students and also those injured were taken to the Federal Medical Center in Keffi town.”

Mantanso Peter, another campus resident, said: “In the course of struggling for bags of rice, we lost some students here at Nasarawa State University in Keffi. This is indeed a sad day for us.”

In a statement issued shortly after the incident was reported, the leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) expressed sadness over death of the students.

Pedro Obi, President of NANS, said: “The national leadership of NANS led by Comr. Pedro Obi condoles with the Coordinator and entire leadership of NANS Zone C, the SUG President Nasarawa State University (NSUK) Keffi and the entire University community over the unfortunate death of her students who died as a result of stampede while struggling to access Gov. Abdullahi Sule’s students palliatives early hours of today, 22nd March 2024, at the Convocation square of the University main Campus.”

“As we consult towards our official statement, we call on the management of Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Government of Nasarawa State to immediately commence a full investigation to unravel the circumstances leading to the stampede and death of our dear constituents,” Obi said.

Governor Sule has since denied the government’s responsibility for the incident. Calling the deaths “very unfortunate,” he said it was not related to planning or negligence as earlier food distributions went smoothly. He said that his officials had paid visits to the students’ families and that they will receive financial support.

The death of the students is coming on the heels of similar incidents recorded in the country as citizens struggle to survive hardship and misery due to a rise in inflation as Nigeria’s economy spirals out of control.

Correction: additional clarification was added regarding the reported number of students who died.