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Katsina Grain Sellers Blame Political Office Holders For Hike In Food Prices

According to them, a bag of maize was being sold at N30,000 in the last five months precisely during the harvest period because some political officeholders allegedly engaged in buying the food items at a lower price.


 

Grain sellers and marketers of other food items in Katsina State have attributed the continuous hike in food commodities to activities of some political officeholders allegedly hoarding the items in their respective stores.

According to them, a bag of maize was being sold at N30,000 in the last five months precisely during the harvest period because some political officeholders allegedly engaged in buying the food items at a lower price.

Their revelation was coming on Thursday after the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) engaged in fact-finding interactions with Traders’ Associations and Marketers of two major markets in the state namely: Katsina Central Market and Chake Market to ascertain factors responsible for the continuous hike in food prices.

 

The fact-finding inquiry embarked on simultaneously by the Commission across ten selected states in the federation including Katsina State is an investigative mission to gather information directly from the sources and stakeholders in major markets, particularly executives, market unions, sellers, and consumers.

The Grain Sellers Chairman in the Katsina Senatorial Zone Aliyu Mai Masara explained that even last week, he purchased a bag of maize at the Dandume Market at the cost of N58,000, and transported it with N2,000 totalling N60,000 expecting to sell it at N62,000.

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“And, even the day before yesterday, we visited the same market and we bought a bag of maize at the cost of N70,000 to N73,000.

“Our political office holders especially the senators, ministers, and House of Representatives members are injecting huge amounts of naira to buy the food items in the market. They don’t take their money to the bank for fear of the EFCC’s invitation.

“It’s sad and unfortunate to be experiencing weekly price increases of commodities. Traders coming to Nigeria from Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon purposely to buy food items are part of the problem. Because they too produce these food items but are still very interested in made-in-Nigerian products because it’s more heavy,” Mai Masara insisted.

Elsewhere at the Chake Market, another grain seller Rufa’i Hamisu argued that price can never be controlled even as he said human beings are also different.

“Some have high hopes amidst the removal of fuel subsidy. As of now, we buy maize at the cost of N72,000 as against last year when it was being sold at N28,000. The same thing with millet.

“So, the government must implement the late Yar’Adua’s policy on petroleum products,” Hamisu noted.

 

In the meantime, a customer simply identified as Yahaya Mashi decried that the lingering price increase is negatively affecting the end users, especially the households.

“Just a day before yesterday, a measure of maize was being sold at N1,500 to N1,600 and it’s now being sold at N2,000. A N35,000 salary cannot satisfy a family man to take care of all necessary expenses.

“Government should, therefore, establish outlets to be selling the food items at a subsidized rate,” Mashi appealed.

 

Earlier in a press briefing held at the FCCPC Zonal Office in Katsina, the Northwest Zonal Coordinator of the Commission, Abdulkarim Shehu stated that the Commission’s priority remains to unlock the markets and to address key consumer protection and competition issues affecting the prices of commodities in the food sector.

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“FCCPC’s surveillance efforts suggest participants in the food chain and distribution sector including wholesalers and retailers are allegedly engaged in conspiracy, price gauging, hoarding and other unfair tactics to restrict or distort competition in the market, restrict the supply of food, manipulate and inflate the price of food indiscriminately.

“These obnoxious, unscrupulous, exploitative practices are illegal under the FCCPA.

“Following this exercise, the Commission would develop a concise report of its inquiry and make recommendations to the government in accordance with Section 17(b) of the FCCPA and initiate broad-based policies and review economic activities in Nigeria to identify and address anti-competitive, anti-consumer protection and restrictive practices to make markets more competitive while also ensuring fair pricing for consumers,” he said.