SEPTEMBER last year, the House of Representatives, acting on a motion moved by one of its members, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), decided to set up a special committee to investigate why the “prices of food items, commodities, goods and services have skyrocketed by as much as 100 per cent in many parts of Nigeria in the last one year”.
Chaired by the Deputy Leader of the House, Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo), the committee was charged with the duty of launching “an investigative hearing with all critical stakeholders in the country” to ascertain the root cause of rising cost of living as well as initiate policies and strategies that “can mitigate the effect of the current inflation in the country”.
Indeed, market surveys during the period and now showed a marked increase in the prices of popular food items, including beverages. This has more or less been confirmed by recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, which indicates a steady rise in food inflation in Nigeria.
The statistics revealed that the prices of goods and services, measured by the Consumer Price Index, increased by 15.40 per cent (year-on-year) in November 2021. Selected food price watch for November 2021 also reveals higher prices on a month-on-month basis and year-on-year basis for the commodities reported.
The rise in the food index, according to the NBS, was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, fish, food product, potatoes, yam and other tubers, oil and fats, milk, cheese and eggs and coffee, tea and cocoa.
Ironically Nigerians are contending with skyrocketing prices of food items at a time the Federal Government has been celebrating its acclaimed interventions in the agriculture sector. The question is: why is the country not feeling the impact of these interventions which, according to government officials, are geared towards improving food supply and alleviating hunger in the country?
Given the prevailing unhealthy circumstances, we call on the Federal Government to either review these interventions or discard them for new and more effective ones.
From every indication, Nigerians are becoming increasingly aggrieved due to the unabating rise in the prices of foodstuff.
Coupled with new regimes of taxes and utility bills which they are finding difficult to pay, many Nigerians, especially those in the low income bracket, see themselves as victims of an oppressive system that refuses to offer them any form of respite. Hence, they easily give vent to their frustrations at the slightest provocation.
This is why the House of Representatives should hasten its investigation on the rampant food inflation. Indeed, government at all levels, must endeavour to act fast in coming up with measures to either arrest or mitigate the untenable food prices rises. It should immediately declare a war against hunger currently ravaging the land.