By Ayo Fadimu
Since the assumption of Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the Vice-President of Nigeria, investigation by the Nigerian NewsDirect market surveillance team has shown that prices of food commodities have reduced drastically in the market.
Osinbajo took over as the Acting President following the medical vacation embarked upon by President Muhammadu Buhari in London. Buhari initially said he would spend 10 days in London but last week wrote the Senate that he would wait to collect the result of series of medical tests conducted by his doctors in London before returning home and then take over the control of the country.
However, since Osinbajo took over, the prices of commodities and goods have suddenly experienced sharp reduction. For instance, a bottle of red palm oil that sold for N800 towards the end of January is now N500. A litre of kerosene that used to be N300 just two weeks ago is now N260. A medium sachet of sugar that sells between N150 to N170 is now N130, tins of milk of various brands have reduced by N30 or more, depending on location.
A market woman who spoke with Nigerian NewsDirect said she had also noticed reduction in some commodities but some are still very high.
“I have also noticed that prices of some commodities especially vegetables, fruits , yams, potatoes , pepper and tomatoes and other items have reduced, I don’t know the cause but we pray that some essential foodstuffs like rice should reduce” she said.
A garri seller also told Nigerian NewsDirect that price of garri has also reduced but the difference is not much.
“Before, a measurement basin used to be N550 but now it’s between N450 to N500, the difference is not so much” she said.
Another trader who simply identified herself as Rashidat said although the prices have slightly reduced, many Nigerians still find them unaffordable.
‘Sales have gone down but thank God we have markets now but there is need for further reduction so that many of our customers can buy from us” Rashidat, who sells pepper and tomatoes told Nigerian NewsDirect.
A source in APC who pleads anonymity said the price reduction might not be unconnected with the setting up of the Task Force on Food Security constituted by the Federal Executive Council headed by Prof Osinbajo at the beginning of the month.
The Task Force will be coordinating various MDAs and working closely with the private sector to explore ways and means of overcoming some of the supply bottlenecks in the short term, while also reinforcing on-going medium and long-term solutions including improving supplies and providing better storage.
A more technical sub-group of the Task Force is now drawing up a draft plan of action for further consideration.
Members of the committee include Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Mrs. Kemi Adeosun (Finance); Dr. Okey Enelamah (Industry, Trade and Development); Mr. Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Alhaji Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources); and Dr. Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment) as members.
It would be recalled that Nigeria’s consumer prices rose by 1.1 per cent in December last year, against November’s 0.8 per cent increase.
The inflation figure for the period was 18.6 per cent, the highest since October 2005, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which the inflation was fueled by higher prices in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels.
“You should also know that Osinbajo is a product of Tinubu’s school of political economy, therefore, he can’t fail, who among Tinubu’s men have failed on given assignment? He asked, referring to former Lagos state governor and national Leader of All Progressive Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Osinbajo served as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Tinubu’s cabinet.
However, a close associate of Osinbajo told Nigerian NewsDirect that Osinbajo is executing Buhari’s agenda and the prices would go down if the president is in the country.
“You can’t dissociate the reduction in prices from the defeat of Boko Haram from their occupied territories in the North-East known for commercial farming activities before the invasion of the terrorists and mind you, the two leaders are always in communication for the smooth running of the country” he added.
The Spokesman of APC in Lagos, Joe Igbokwe told our correspondents he would still carry out his market survey before giving response.