by Linda Ikeji
Garba Shehu, the Special Assistant on President Buhari on Media and Publicity, says contrary to public opinion, the prices of foodstuff across the country are coming down.
Garba said this when he appeared on Channels TV on Friday September 11, to discuss the recent directive President Buhari issued to the Central Bank of Nigeria to henceforth stop the release of forex for food and fertilizer importation.
A senior lecturer in the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, Dr Ahmed Adamu, faulted the directive of the President. According to him, it was a bad time to issue such a directive given that there is high inflation already in the economy.
“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.”Adamu said
While responding to the lecturer’s position, Garba said
“To say the cost of food items is connected to the closure of the borders is absolutely wrong. And to say that the prices of food ain’t coming down, I think the scholar has detached himself from the market because we sat through the meeting of the National Food Security Council and we heard presentations by experts – people who had surveyed the markets.
As of yesterday (Thursday) in the morning of the meeting, go and check the index in markets. For instance in Kano, millets that had gone up to N24,000 has now gone down to N12,000, N13,000. Rice that had been N25,000 is now N20,000. Corn, maize is now N18,000 for the old stock and N14,000, N15,000 for the new stock.
So, to say that there is no change in the prices is to show one is completely detached from what is happening in the country.”
Responding to comments that his position is not the reality of many Nigerians, Garba said
“As the Germans say, if you want to get the best of the weather, open the windows. My suggestions to the journalists who sit and write all of these numbers is, send your correspondents to the streets, go to the markets and find out.
I didn’t say that all of the prices, the changes had crashed completely. They are coming down because the harvested items are coming into the market. Prices are coming down, they will continue to go down as more and more food items are harvested. It’s a seasonal thing and we are going to see through this as well.”