The Presidency on Friday says the prices of food items in the country are dropping as a result of the agricultural reforms of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, made this known while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
Shehu was reacting to the President’s directive Thursday that the Central Bank of Nigeria should not release money for food and fertiliser importation henceforth.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in their reactions, warned that the directive could cause further inflation, saying the country was not sufficient in food production and still needed forex to import some food items.
Speaking also on the TV programme on Friday, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, Dr Ahmed Adamu, faulted the timing of the policy because of the inflation already in the economy.
Adamu said, “It is also a wrong time because we have not built the right infrastructure and not supplied the right agriculture facilities and we have not built the entire agriculture value chain. We are also facing insecurity and a lot of farmers have been displaced from their farms and they cannot produce much. And now the government is discouraging cheap importation from other countries. It is going to create a lot of food scarcity in the country.
“Now we are seeing a high rise in the prices of food items in the country and this measure is going to increase the prices of food items further at a time when we just came out of COVID-19 lockdown.”
The scholar stressed that Nigerians should not be punished for the failure and inability of government and policy-makers to protect the naira, adding that the government’s decision is “a recipe for hyperinflation”.
According to him, consumers are rational and so the government needs to ask itself why the people prefer foreign food items over locally produced ones.
“They (consumers) know why they go for foreign food items – maybe because of quality, quantity or price. Instead of you (the government) to force Nigerians to buy things that they are not ready to buy, why don’t you make the local products become attractive to Nigerians by enhancing its quality, quantity and competitive price. These are things that we need to set in place before we force people because this actually is an aggressive measure,” Adamu added.
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