The hike in prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities is alarming and unbearable. For many Nigerians, life and living is becoming extremely difficult. Many of them, especially the vulnerable, go through hardship to acquire the crucially needed basic necessities of food and other essential commodities. This in turn, has now mutated into a major threat like humanitarian crisis, security and developmental issues, in addition to the low nutritional status of the people.
Nigerians are now in the mercy of these crises; many live at the risk of malnutrition of children, thereby compromising their chances of living a dignified life.
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One of the key drivers of the alarming uptick in food commodities is inflation, which simply put, is the general and progressive increase in prices and a crash in the purchasing value of the local currency, the Naira. An increase in production cost can lead to inflation, a surge in demand in comparison with available supply can also lead to inflation.
Nigeria’s core inflation is over 13 per cent, while food inflation was 17.5 per cent, in early 2021. In November 2021, it increased to 17.21 per cent while in early January 2022, it further increased to 17.37 per cent as of date (NBS data). This index is stunning and frustrating as the World Bank noted that food hike could push six million more Nigerians into poverty
Other inflationary pressures include the series of insurgencies bedeviling the country especially in the northern part where most of the essential food items for the nation comes from. These have also adversely contributed to the astronomic hike of prices of foodstuffs.
In view of these problems bedeviling our economy, the concerned authorities – federal, state and local governments – in conjunction with lawmakers and other stakeholders should endeavour to properly manage the situation before it gets out of hand. They should emulate the initiative of Kano State Anti-Corruption Commission and BUA Group when they regulated price of essential commodities hike during the previous Muslim fasting period (Ramadan).
In addition, they should expedite action in reducing tax duties for importers, aimed at addressing the hike on the price of commodities.
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) should also checkmate the hike in prices.
Our leaders should remember the popular saying by Virginia Woolf “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”.
Abdulazeez Alhassan writes from Rigasa, Kaduna