DUE mainly to the multifaceted insecurity in Nigeria, food inflation, which hit all-time high in 2020 with 20.75 per cent, is still hovering at 19.57 per cent going by the September 2021 official figures.
The menace of jihadist terrorists in the North-East, the bandit terrorists in the North-West and parts of North- Central, and herdsmen terrorists in the three zones of the South and North-Central, have combined to drive millions of subsistence farmers off their farms, thus occasioning food scarcity and inflation.
To add to the woes of the average Nigerian family, the cost of cooking gas has continued its steady climb from average of N4,500 at the beginning of this year to the current prices of between N8,750 and N10,000 for the popular 12.5kg cylinder.
Most middle to upper class homes, especially in the urban areas, are feeling the pinch. The poorer families are going through harrowing experiences trying to cope, more so as the price of kerosene had long taken flight in addition to being scarce in many places.
Three main factors account for the sudden jump in the price of cooking gas. These include the fact that despite Nigeria sitting on one of the largest gas reserves in the world, we still depend largely on imported gas. Up to 70 per cent of the gas we use is imported.
Our highly-efficient Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, is packaged mostly for sale to the highest bidder in the international market and virtually irrelevant to the domestic consumer.
Secondly, the prices of petroleum products have been rising in the international market in tune with the high cost of crude oil from which these products are made.
But by far the greatest source of the jump in the cooking gas price is the introduction of the 7.5 per cent Value-Added Tax, VAT, on imported gas.
How can the Federal Government be so myopic and insensitive as to impose VAT on a premium energy source on which the people depend to cook their food? Is it not luxury goods that should be taxed?
The high cost of gas and kerosene has forced many Nigerians to return to the use of charcoal and firewood for cooking. This imposes a huge toll on our environment since the hunt for firewood leads to further deforestation.
It shows that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s verbal commitments to the international community’s agenda to curb carbon emission, we are not serious in putting our words into action.
We call on the Federal Government to immediately reconsider the VAT on imported gas.
Steps must be taken to ensure that our people benefit from our abundant gas resources. This suffering in the midst of plenty is a sure sign of poor governance. It is unacceptable. It must stop.