The governor of Niger State, Mohammed Umar Bago has placed a temporary ban on the sale and distribution of food items and other farm produce in the state to other states in Nigeria.
The governor gave this order on Thursday while reacting to a massive protest that rocked the state capital in Minna, the state capital against the rising inflation and current economic hardships in Nigeria.
According to him, the protest was caused by a piece of wrong information claiming that the government was planning to hoard some food palliatives in the state despite the severe hunger people were facing.
He said, “On your way en route Lagos to Abuja, a lot of trucks going to the north will pass through either Minna or Lambata, through Sarki Pawa to cut short the high cost of fuel.
These people had gone to inform the people (masses) of food coming in for keeps by the government. So they intimated these people (masses) that there was food, truckloads of foods coming to Minna. And it is going to go straight to some stores for sharing to you and that agitated the power.
“Trucks who come to park or buy foodstuff from our villagers in bulk should be halted for now. We have stopped mass purchase from our local markets, in all our local government from now until further notice. Anybody found doing that, we have given security agencies to go ahead to confiscate those trucks and share the foods to the people.”
Videos on Monday had shown how the protesters blocked major roads as they lamented that there was no government efforts to arrest the situation of the rising cost of food items.
The protesters were heard chanting protest songs, while security agents including policemen looked on.
Meanwhile, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release about 42,000 metric tonnes of grain, including maize, millet and garri.
Similarly, the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria also committed to immediately releasing over 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the public.
The minister of information and national orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this after the meeting of the presidential committee on emergency food intervention on Thursday in Abuja.
He said these were immediate measures the federal government took to reduce the hardships faced by Nigerians who are made to bear the brunt of high food prices in the market.
“These will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigeria in the next couple of weeks. One month, six weeks, perhaps up to two months. Now, the whole idea of this is to crush the cost of these food items. And these are measures that will happen immediately.
“Now, the third item is that government is also looking at the possibility of, if it becomes absolutely necessary and as an interim measure, to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians,” he said.
Idris also said the ministry would invest massively in farming to boost production and fully exploit the country’s food potential.
He said the government would appeal to persons or groups to stop hoarding these products to maximise profit to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians.
“Government, of course, is also looking at all those who are hoarding these commodities because, actually, these commodities are available in the stores of many traders. Government is appealing to them that they should open up these doors and make these commodities available in the interest of our nation.
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“There is no point when the whole country is looking for this food. You are locking up these products where you make more money, and then Nigerians suffer. Of course, the government will not fold its arms,” the minister explained.
He stressed that the government would also ensure that food continues to be accessible and affordable to Nigerians.
“This is an emergency situation. Every nation faces emergency situations. This is our own time to face these challenges,” stated Mr Idris. “The President has directed that whatever it will take, food will be available to Nigerians at a cost that is also very reasonable.”