FG Worried About Soaring Living Costs; Protests Erupt in Minna


Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Economy Coordinator, Mr. Olawale Edun, expressed concern over the escalating prices of food and goods nationwide, attributing it to supply and demand dynamics. His remarks came during a meeting in Abuja with a visiting German delegation led by Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Svenja Shulze.

Meanwhile, protests erupted in Niger State over alleged hoarding and exportation of food items, with the state government attributing the unrest to food speculators. Police intervened, dispersing protesters and making arrests to restore order.

Relatedly, Kano State Governor Abba Yusuf, on Monday, lamented that many people in his state were living in misery, amid starvation and acute hunger. Yusuf said inflation had terribly outpaced incomes, resulting in deaths, as several residents could not cope with the rising cost of living.

In a parallel development, the Labour Party (LP) expressed concern regarding the escalating cost of living in Nigeria and urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to seek assistance before the situation spiraled out of control. Edun, responding to the prevailing circumstances, emphasized that the key to tackling the issue was to enhance agricultural output, specifically to mitigate inflationary pressures.

Speaking alongside Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Edun said, “I think the issue of rising prices is of concern to the government and everybody in Nigeria,” and some major steps were being taken to address the situation.

He said, “It is the issue of demand and supply and a lot of emphasis has been placed on increasing agricultural production, in particular.

“The president has intervened in that sector to provide grain, fertilisers to farmers and to bring additional acreage, rice, wheat, maize, and cassava – to increase the output and thereby bring down prices and that will help bring down inflation.

“And, of course, we are in the middle of the dry season farming and we are looking forward to a good dry season harvest that will ameliorate price, in particular, and the price level in Nigeria, in general.”

At an emergency meeting with the business community in Kano, Yusuf decried the current hardship and starvation faced by residents.

He told the business community, “There is hunger in Kano and we must find a solution to stop people from dying and falling sick. We know you are doing your best as a businessman, but you are not doing enough.

“We should join hands to salvage the situation, as governor and my deputy, we do not need a penny from anyone. All we need is for you to come and help us assist the poor people.”

Yusuf urged the business moguls in the state to complement the effort of the government, saying, “I urge you to come up with a solution on how to crash the prices of commodities to make life meaningful for our people.

“Kano has been the centre of commerce in Nigeria, after Lagos. It is such that the state has gone down on the graph today”

“Formerly, business people used to come to Kano to buy whatever from other neighbouring states and neighbouring countries. But all these have now deteriorated.

“All major business people from Niger, Cameron, Chad, and others had made Kano their home. But today all these have changed. The patronage has been reduced.

“In the past, there were a lot of employment opportunities for people from Kano with the available industries, which had provided a livelihood for many.

“All of these are no more. This has led youths into drug abuse, kidnapping, and banditry. People are facing hardship such that a measure of rice cannot be afforded by a lot of families.”

The governor added, “Locally produced rice is now N65, 000; maize is N52, 000; millet N56, 000; and groundnut oil is N4, 500. Where will the people place themselves and what will the salary earner survive on?

“I will meet with Tinubu to inform him that people are hungry in Kano. The federal government should give preferential assistance to the highly populated state.”

Some of those, who spoke on behalf of the business community, like Alhaji Sabiu Bako, Alhaji Salisu Sambajo, Muhammad Adakawa, and Sammani Elsamad, among others, called on Yusuf to lead other governors of the North-west in finding solution to the economic problems of the region.

They denied raising the prices of their products, but said the producers increased their prices, while they only purchased and sold accordingly.

The business community also lamented that 70 per cent of businesses had closed down due to the devaluation of the naira and the scarcity of the dollar, which also affected the retail prices of goods.

They urged the government to ensure that the gas pipeline construction was completed to ease the supply of the product to industries.

But the business representatives lamented alleged extortion by traffic officials, which they claimed added to the problem of transporting goods to and from Kano.


Bago Blames Protest on Food Speculators

Niger State Government blamed food speculators for yesterday’s protest by some youths and women, who were angered by the mass purchase of food items for hoarding and export.

Governor Mohammed Bago told a news conference in Minna, after a meeting of the state executive council, that the protesters’ plan was to attack trucks loaded with assorted food items being conveyed from the southern parts of the state to the north, but intelligence frustrated the effort.

Bago, however, said hoodlums hijacked the protests, resulting in the blockade of the main road leading to the southern part of the state.

But for the quick intervention of the security agencies, who diverted the trucks loaded with food items to another route, the situation would have been disastrous, the governor said. He added that similar incidents had occurred in Mokwa and Lapai towns.

The governor disclosed that mass purchase of food items, including goats, sheep and cows, had been on the increase in the state. He said a “cartel” was behind the illegal act, which was intended to further increase hunger among the people.

He said, “We don’t have any reason to be hungry, Niger State is an agrarian state. We produce all that we eat, but this cartel wants to create disaffection among the people.”

Bago also said the government had in the past tried to purchase food items for sale at subsidised rates to cushion the effect of the removal of subsidy on petrol, but “these cartels frustrated the plan”.

He said the federal government became interested in the issue after he reported the incident to the vice president, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.

Bago disclosed that some arrests had been made in connection with the protests and those arrested would be charged to court soon.

He did not say how many protesters were apprehended, but stated that the situation had been brought under control with people now going about their lawful businesses.

Bago responded to the situation by issuing an Executive Order stopping the mass purchase of food items from all markets in the state. He said violators of the order would be dealt with.

The governor appealed to residents to key into his agricultural revolution policy, which was not “dollarised”, as a sure way to stop hunger among the people.

Abiodun, who described the action of the protesters as “abnormal”, declined to say if any permit was issued to the protesters before they embarked on the action.

The PPRO disclosed that a number of protesters had been arrested, but he did not say the exact number. He added that police operatives were still on the ground to make more arrests.

According to the police spokesman, “As soon as they bring them (the protesters) to the office, we will know how many were arrested.”

He said normalcy had returned to the areas.  

Abiodun also said police operatives had been deployed to the areas, where the protests took place, to patrol and ensure that peace was maintained.

It was observed that some of the protesters were injured in the stampede that followed the intervention of the police to disperse the crowds.

The party said the federal government needed to take action to reduce the hardship faced by poor Nigerians, and seek help because things were becoming unbearable for the average Nigerian.