Agitations for affordable food items and calls for improved living standards got the attention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and governors yesterday.
The Federal Government and the states rolled out emergency actions to stem the tide.
Some of the measures include:
*Release of 100,000 metric tons of assorted food items from the strategic reserve and the stores of the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria;
*Likely importation of food items to block shortfall.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the President gave the directive during a meeting of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.
The minister, who spoke with reporters at the State House, Abuja after the meeting, warned that those hoarding food items will face the wrath of the law.
“Emergencies require measures to ensure food is available to Nigerians,” he said.
According to Idris, the government plans to clamp down on those deliberately hoarding foodstuffs with the intent of creating artificial scarcity so that they can sell at higher prices.
He warned that nobody would be allowed to hold the country to ransom.
Idris said: “The government has come up with some measures to ensure that food becomes more readily available to Nigerians.
“The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release immediately about 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, ‘garri’ and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians.
“The second one is that we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria – those responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.
“This will be made available and we know that is enough to sustain Nigerians for the next one month to six weeks, perhaps up to two months.
“They’ve agreed that they will make that available to Nigerians.
“The whole idea of this is to crash the cost of these food items and these are measures that would happen immediately.
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“The government is also looking at the possibility – if it becomes absolutely necessary as an interim measure in the short run – of importing some of these commodities immediately so they can be made available to Nigerians within the next couple of weeks.”
On the long-term measures, the minister said that the President directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to work with farmers and invest heavily in the production of various food crops in the upcoming farming season.
He said: “As soon as the dry season farming gets underway, the government hopes that food prices will drop.
“Now, the government of course is also looking at all those who are hoarding these commodities because actually, they are available in the stores of many traders.
“The government is appealing to them to make these commodities available in the interest of our nation.
“Don’t lock up the products to make more money and then Nigerians suffer.
“Of course, the government will not fold its arms. We know where all these major traders are. We know where all these major stores are.
“If they don’t respond by bringing these commodities to the market, the government will take appropriate measures to ensure that these products are made available to Nigerians.”