The Federal Government on Thursday disagreed with the organised Labour on its threat to declare a nationwide strike in the next 14 days over the alleged failure of the government to implement the memorandum of understanding reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress in October 2023.
The Federal Government announced its consideration of food importation as a crucial measure to address the soaring prices of commodities in the country, aiming to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians.
In the meantime, the government has authorized the immediate release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice and maize from the national grain reserve.
Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, revealed this decision following a meeting of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Idris emphasized that the President has instructed that food must be made available, regardless of the necessary steps. This directive followed three days of committee deliberations prompted by nationwide protests against the high cost of food and other economic difficulties.
The minister also stressed that the government would impose appropriate penalties on food hoarders, asserting that emergency situations demand urgent actions to ensure food accessibility for Nigerians. He urged citizens to display patriotism by refraining from hoarding food, while the government focuses on substantial investments in food production.
On the consideration of food importation if the suffering continues, the minister said: “Now, the third item is that the government is also looking at the possibility, if it becomes absolutely necessary as an interim measure on the short run, to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians within the next couple of weeks.”
On the outcome of the meeting, Idris said: “Today’s (yesterday) meeting was again on the issue of difficulty, like I said two days ago, of putting food on the table of most Nigerians, and has come up with a number of measures to ensure that food becomes more readily available to Nigerians.
The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release about 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, garri and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42000 metric tons immediately.
The second one is that we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.
They’ve told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. This will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigerians for the next one month to six weeks, perhaps up to two months.