Some Lagos residents have raised concerns about the escalating prices of food items, particularly with Christmas just a few days away.
They also urged the government to collaborate with major markets in the metropolis to provide discounts similar to the transportation rebate recently announced by President Bola Tinubu.
This, they believe, will help alleviate the burden of high food prices during the festive season.
approved a 50 per cent slash in price of inter-state transport fare for holiday makers traveling during the yuletide from Dec. 21, 2023 to Jan. 4, 2024.
Speaking in separate interviews with NAN on Friday, in Lagos, the respondents also suggested that the government could consider implementing food stamps, a measure commonly employed in developed countries, to address the issue of hunger in the country.
By providing food stamps, individuals facing financial difficulties can obtain essential food items without bearing the full financial burden.
A survey conducted by NAN in major markets, including Mile 12, Ile-Epo, and Ajah, revealed that prices of all food items have increased by over 100 per cent, compared to the same period in 2022.
For instance, the cost of a 40-kilogramme basket of tomatoes has risen from N16,000 to N32,000 since last year.
Similarly, a 25-kilogramme bag of Scotch Bonnet pepper, commonly known as ‘Atarodo,’ now sells for N28,000, compared to N15,000 during the expensive Easter period.
The price hikes have also affected bell peppers (Tatashe), with a 50-kilogramme basket now priced at N27,000 as opposed to the previous N14,000.
Onions have seen a drastic increase, with a 100-kilogramme basket now selling for N170,000, up from N60,000 last year.
Other essential commodities like rice and vegetable oil have also experienced significant price increases.
Even livestock such as chicken and goats have not been spared from the price increment, with chicken ranging from N8,000 to N22,000, and goats priced between N30,000 to N40,000 depending on size and negotiation.
Mrs Dolapo Akinmurewa, a housekeeper, expressed her concerns about the upcoming festivities, saying that “the current prices of rice, tomatoes, and chicken do not make it look like a celebration that Nigerians can eagerly anticipate”.
Akinmurewa urged the government to intervene promptly to reduce effdct of the challenge challenges on the people.
“Even the well to do this period should extend their kind generosity to the poor as many are really struggling to make ends meet.
“Please remember your hair dresser, your cleaner, your housekeeper, security, all those people you know cannot help themselves this period.
“These are the things that attract blessings because you’re giving to the poor as God advised,” she said.
Akinmurewa, however, urged government, to assist consumers with palliatives as bail out.
Mr Michael Opara, a trader, said in the advanced economy including the United States, the governments usually provide food stamps and other social security measures for its citizens.
Opara said the Nigerian government can afford same, using the National Identification Number (NIN) or Bank Verification Number (BVN) to ensure that the truly poor gets the food stamps.
He bemoaned the current economic realities and urged government to intervene by ensuring a better life for the citizens during this festive period.
“They must find a way to monitor the sharing so that everyone that gets it are those that really need it and not that some people would sit there and siphon it for their family members only.
Mrs Stacy Soremekun, a Small Business Owner, stated that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) were the ones affected the most by the current economic realities.
She noted that many small businesses that previously used to provide end-of-the-year bonuses cannot do same now in view of the economic downturn.
Soremekun urged the government to provide food and financial rebates for citizens to minimise the impact of the hardship on their businesses and on livelihood.
Mr Femi Odusanya, Spokesperson, Mile 12 Market Traders Association, attributed the high cost of food situation to the cost of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol after the subsidy removal, high transportation cost and poor agriculture value- chain.
“Farmers and markets move goods with small trucks which are largely petrol-powered instead of articulated vehicles.
“This is so because many actors in the value-chain do not have financial capacity to buy diesel engine heavy trucks which ordinarily are cost effective for goods transportation.
“I think the government need to invest heavily in Agriculture value-chain to cushion the effects on poor Nigerians, if prices of Agricultural goods and food are relatively stable, I think the people would appreciate it,” he said.