As the country approaches the yuletide seasons Nigerians have continued to lament the rising cost of food items which in recent times have almost doubled due to rising inflation and insecurity in agriculture areas.
In the latest household market survey, prices of major food items recorded significant increase across markets in Lagos State, as traders lament heightened levels of insecurity such as banditry and kidnapping in the country, leading to scarcity and the subsequent hike in the prices of various food items.
According to a survey, a big bag of white beans now sells for an average of N42,000, indicating a 31.3 per cent in price compared to N32,000 recorded in October. A big bag of Onion also spiked by 48.7 per cent to sell for an average of N82,500. Vegetable oil (25 litres) that was sold for an average of N14,625 in October, witnessed a 13.33 per cent increase in price to sell for an average of N16,575.
A big bag of dry onion spiked by 48.65 per cent to sell for an average of N82,500, compared to an initial average of N55,000 recorded in October 2020, similarly, a big bag of new onion increased by 62.2 per cent, from an average of N41,000 to sell for N66,500.
A schoolteacher and single mother, Toun Adebisi, said she could not afford to buy a bag of rice as she used to, due to the recent price hike.
“We have to resort to local rice,” she continued. “My children have even abandoned the rice for yam, but it is still costly.”
Sunday Ogunnusi, a resident of Ogba, in Lagos, said the increase in the prices of staple food was an attempt to annihilate both the poor and vulnerable in the country.
“Just visit the market,” Ogunnusi said. “You would notice that things are costly now. My wife used to buy bags of rice and half a bag of beans and garri in the house. But these days, we can’t afford it any longer. Now, we only take home what we see and would eat, and this is frustrating and saddening”.
However, a banker with one of the first generation banks in Lagos, Kunle Akinjobi, blamed traders for the skyrocketing food prices, adding that some of them are using the opportunities of the coronavirus pandemic to exploit Nigerians.
He urged the government to come to the rescue of Nigerians by looking into the increase in the prices of essential commodities.
“We can’t continue to blame our problems on inflation,” he said. “Are we saying the increase in dollar rate is the reason why prices of yam and cassava flours were increased too?
An economist, Gbenga Awosoro, said the government should rise and address the yearnings of Nigerians over the cost of necessary commodities.
He said that all the stakeholders in agriculture needed to come together and address the challenges of the hike in food prices, which is being attributed to COVID-19 and insecurity.
He explained that the surge in food prices might also threaten the nation’s food security if the government decided not to intervene.
“If people said we should not blame the government for this, then who else should we blame and that is why we need those who understand how to run our economy in power,’ he said.