TOPE Fasua, the Special Adviser on Economic Affairs to President Bola Tinubu, has said high food exports to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries fuelled rising food costs.
Fasua said this while speaking on Channels TV on Thursday, February 8.
The ICIR reports that the immediate neighbouring countries surrounding Nigeria are the Republic of Benin, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
“I was in the Kano area a couple of weeks back, and because of the relative weakness of the naira, there is a lot of export of food items going on there.
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“For example, our maize is being exported to the Niger Republic and borders and so on because the CFA is suddenly stronger,” Fasua said.
He noted the indiscriminate sale of food items, raising concerns about the need for price control mechanisms and reviving the commodity boards.
The ICIR reports that before 1986, Nigeria had six commodity boards before embarking on a market-oriented economic ideology.
The Commodity Boards Act 1977 dissolved the Nigerian Produce Marketing Company Limited and all the States Marketing Boards and, in their place, set up six new Commodity Boards.
The boards were the Nigerian Cocoa Board (Ibadan), Nigerian Groundnut Board (Kano), Nigerian Cotton Board (Katsina), Nigerian Palm Produce Board (Calabar), Nigerian Rubber Board (Benin), and Nigerian Grains Board (Minna).
Fasua said on Channels TV that state and local governments were closer to the farmers and should work with the Federal Government to save Nigerians from the calamity of surging food prices.
“There is a need to understand what is happening at that level to save ourselves from this calamity.
“The surging price of food items has a trace to happenings at the global stage, Fasua noted, adding that the government must put in place intellectual and regulatory infrastructure other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom had used to control their food inflation.
Nigerians are facing the worst situation of rising food prices because of the government’s reforms.
Fasua said ‘better’ days would come when the economy starts to grow and people begin to get jobs, among others, but in the interim, everyone would earn a bit more (income) than they were earning.
“A better situation will also be that the government can control increases in prices so that people can no longer wake up and do anything they like.
“Regulation is good for everybody and stabilises industries. It is not an exploitation. It is to make everybody do what they are supposed to do as part and parcel of an economy, and people who try to cheat are dealt with so that everybody knows you can’t just take advantage of others.”
He also pointed out that the depreciation of the value of the naira made food items attractive to neighbouring countries and those hedging commodities.
However, whether the export proceeds are coming in is an issue the Central Bank has to look into, Fasua said.
The need to regulate the prices of goods has recently taken a legal interpretation.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, had dragged the Price Control Board and the Attorney General of the Federation, both of whom are listed as defendants, before the court to determine whether by virtue of Section 4 (1) of the Price Control Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the first defendant is carrying out its duty to impose a price on any goods that are of the kind specified in the First Schedule to the Price Control Act.
Presiding over the judgment on Wednesday, February 7, Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa ordered the Nigerian government to fix the price of goods and petroleum products within seven days.
The items include milk, flour, salt, sugar, bicycles and their spare parts, matches, motorcycles and spare parts, motor vehicles and spare parts, and petroleum products, including diesel, petrol motor spirit (PMS) and kerosene.
Commenting on the judgment, a human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani, said he expected the Federal government to obey the order.
He argued that the government must fix the prices of goods as ordered by the court and be interested in ensuring people’s lives are better.
“I think that a government that loves Nigeria would do that. I don’t hope that they will go and appeal this particular judgement,” Ubani said on Channels TV on Thursday.