ZARIA lawmaker in the Kaduna State House of Assembly Hon Suleiman Dabo has written to the National Assembly asking it to place a ban on the increase in essential item prices while the coronavirus pandemic still rages.
Nigeria has not suffered to greatly from the health effects of the pandemic but economically, the crisis has pushed the country to the brink. In total, Nigeria only has 2,558 coronavirus cases of which there have been 87 casualties but in terms of the economic impact, the country has suffered tremendously from both the lockdown and the collapse of the global economy.
For starters, Nigeria’s petroleum exports have all but ceased and with over 90% of government revenue coming from crude oil export receipts, the treasury is facing a serious crisis. Also, the lockdown has devastated the lives of the Nigerian urban economies which are dominated by petty artisans and traders who earn their livelihood on a daily basis.
Cashing in on the situation, market traders have increased their prices, pushing up inflation, leading to restlessness in several urban centres. Hon Dabo, has thus written to the leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly asking them to intervene and salvage the situation.
Last week, Nigeria’s Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) announced plans to prosecute four supermarkets and their proprietors in Abuja over the arbitrary hike in the prices of sanitizers, hand-wash liquids, disinfectants and other anti-bacterial hygiene products. They include Prince Ebeano Supermarket and its proprietor David Ojei, Bakan Gizo Pharmacy & Stores Nigeria and its representatives, Ray Opia and Luter Irene, H-Medix Pharmacy & Stores and the representatives Sandra Ejekwu and John Oluwagbemiga, as well as Faxx Stores & Trading and the representative Adogah Ahmed.
Hon Dabo’s letter was written separately to senate president Senator Ahmad Lawan and the speaker of the House of Representatives Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. While lamenting about the situation Hon Dabo described the move by certain retailers to cash in on the crisis as pathetic.
“Driven by the spirit of oversight in this trying moment, I had taken time to carefully do a window shopping of some household consumables and medical supplies but to my dismay and agony the level of price inflations on such items is unjust, unfair, unacceptable and unbearable to the common man. I am truly dismayed as the inflation is not driven by market forces but by selfish and wicked attitude of a few Nigerians, most of which are retailers.
“This must be looked into extensively and expeditiously to salvage the common man before it is too late. Mr Speaker sir, it is important to note that I am conveying the realities in Kaduna state only as a federating unit as well as my primary constituency.
“However, I strongly believe that what is happening in Kaduna State may likely be the same in other northern states and beyond in this critical moment of our country. Mr Speaker Sir, it is in view of this submission, that I will recommend that the House of Representatives as a very strong democratic institution to summon the head of Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to explain the role they have been playing as their primary responsibility, if things like this will continue to happen unchecked,” Hon Dabo wrote.