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Border Closure: Nigerians groan as prices of staple food items skyrocket by 65%

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Border Closure: Nigerians groan as prices of staple food items skyrocket by 65%

…As Mozambique, Exxon to sign agreement on LNG production***

Nigerians are now feeling the pains arising from the border closure as the prices of staple foods such as rice, frozen foods and others continue to witness an increase of up to 65 per cent.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government of Nigeria had closed its borders since Aug. 19 in an operation tagged “Ex-Swift Response.’’

The joint-border closure meant to check the smuggling of goods into the country, is being supervised by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Police and military personnel and coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser.

However, some of the prices of the food items that come from the land borders, especially the Republic of Benin have increased astronomically.

The president’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina had in a statement in Abuja said that President Buhari expressed great concern over rice smuggling into the country.

The president said that the activities of the smugglers threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to the administration’s agricultural policies.

“Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would have otherwise been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves.

“We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,’’ he said.

However, Nigerians are now feeling the pangs of the border closure as the price of a bag of rice that was sold around N12, 000 before now sells around N20,000 to N22,000.

Also, a carton of frozen food (Orobo Chicken) that sold before at the rate of N7,000 to N7,500 now sells for N12,000 to N13,000.

To Nigerians, these foods are essential to their survival because they are consumed in large quantities which necessitated their large importation.

A rice retailer, Mama Ibrahim at Ketu Market in Lagos, lamented the absence of the locally produced rice which was the reason borders were shut, adding that they were not available.

“The local rice is nowhere to be found because they cannot go round. Nigerians eat rice a lot; it is the most consumed food item in the country after bread.

“The Federal Government should have ensured self-sufficiency in rice before closing the borders. If the local rice is available, there won’t be any increase in the price in the market.

“We have been battling with the price of the local rice because since the borders were shut the price kept on increasing,’’ she said.

Mr Idowu Kalejaiye said that the pains that arose from the border closure were much more than what the citizen could afford.

“Prices of food items have gone up without any commensurate increase in our salaries which has never been enough.

“Government should have considered making the alternatives available in abundance before closing the borders which has resulted into cutting off food supply.

“The claims that we are rice sufficient have been defeated because after the border closure, not only that we have shortage in supply but the prices of the locally produced rice have gone up.

“If we are self-sufficient in rice production as claimed, we should by now be exporting the product to other countries,’’ he said.

A major supplier of frozen food, Mr Segun Abdulahi, said that the border closure had affected sale of the food items.

Also read:  Border closure: Customs impounds thousands of ammunition, 1072 vehicles, over 19,000 bags of smuggled rice

“I think many have now found alternative to frozen foods because of the price increase. Even some of the varieties of fishes that are low in prices don’t enjoy much patronage again.

“Although there are high demands for some variety, we have low demand for items like Turkey and Sardines because of the relative price increase.

“To be frank, frozen foods are scarce in the market now. Only few of us that have it in stock increased the prices, so, maybe some of the customers don’t have a choice but to buy,’’ he said.

A poultry owner, Mr Kunle Olawuwo, however, lauded the decision of the government to close the borders, adding that it would enhance local production.

“The border closure will help us to realise what we are lacking in the nation by importing what we can produce in large quantity.

“For how long would we continue to be dumping ground for expired poultry products when we can have the chickens in abundance in Nigeria?

“Some people have turned smugglers because they don’t want their expired products to be examined before dumping them in the market for unsuspecting Nigerians,’’ he said.

In the meantime, Mozambique and U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil will finalise investment in Mozambique’s lucrative liquefied natural gas fields in a signing ceremony on Tuesday, the African country’s government has said.

The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy said that the signing would also host other firms in the capital Maputo.

Exxon’s Rovuma LNG project, jointly operated with Italian firm Eni, will produce, liquefy and sell natural gas from three reservoirs located in the Area 4 block offshore Mozambique’s northern coast.

Exxon estimates the fields, which are due to come on line in 2024, will cost $30 billion to develop.

Exxon has said it expects 17,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per year during the production phase, with the signing of an initial investment decision paving the way for the massive infrastructure project to begin.

The gas fields are located off the coast of the northern Cabo Delgado province, which for the last two years has seen intensifying attacks on surrounding communities and government buildings by an extreme Islamist militant group.

In February, Texas-based petroleum firm Anadarko said one worker was killed and several others injured in two related attacks in the Cabo Delgado area where it is building a 17,000-acre liquefaction complex.

 

 

Economy

Sanitary Pads: Reps Query Minister Over N65m Spent On New Year Party, Others

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 The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye has drawn the ire of the House of Representatives following the unguarded manner she allegedly spent monies which included expenditures of N45 million for a New Year party and, N20 million for sanitary pads.

The House of Representatives which has now queried the minister, also frowned on her other unrelated expenditure which includes N1.5 million for vehicle fuel.

Rep. Kafilat Ogbara, Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, led the interrogation of the Minister, over the non-payment of N1.5 billion to contractors despite the fund release in Abuja.

She said that the investigative hearing was aimed at uncovering the truth and not witch-hunting the Minister and the officials of the ministry.

The committee also investigated the alleged diversion of funds meant for contractor payments, following a petition from contractors.

The committee also sought clarification on funds appropriated for the African First Lady’s mission and the whereabouts of the N1.5 billion meant for contractor payments.

The minister however denied the allegations of misappropriation, overspending, and non-payment to contractors.

The procurement officer confirmed contractors’ claims, and the Director of Finance and Administration acknowledged only paying approved contracts.

It would be recalled that the committee had at its last sitting summoned the minister to appear before it to explain the rationale behind the non-payment.

The committee also ordered the stoppage of all 2024 contract processes by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs until the whereabouts of the money for the said contracts are determined

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Economy

LASU: Town, Meets Gown Next Tuesday, To Make Rails Transportation More Meaningful

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LASU: Town, Meets Gown Next Tuesday, To Make Rails Transportation More Meaning

…NRC Boss, Engr. Okhiria is Pointman

The Town and the Gown will on Tuesday converge at the Lagos State University (LASU), in a mutual fusion of quality and sustainable ideas, as the Managing Director, Nigeria Railways Corporation speaks on where the eggheads necessarily need to intervene, for the overall benefit of the nation.

NRC Boosts Passenger- Safety With  Strong Armed Forces Collaboration 
Engr. Fidet-Okhiria

Prof. Bamidele Badejo who is now back in LASU, confirmed this to the Maritime First, highlighting that Engr. Freeborn Okhiria would meticulously dissect a critical issue, titled: ‘From Exclusive Clause To Concurrent List: Potency for sustainable rail infrastructure development in Nigeria and the Lagos State example.

Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the Lagos State Commissioner of Transport, will be in attendance; at an event which will flag off by noon prompt, Tuesday 16th, July 2024, at the Femi Gbajabiamila Conference Centre.

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Economy

Reps Probe Cbn’s N1.12trn Anchor Borrowers Scheme, NIRSAL’s N215b Loan

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Reps Probe Cbn’s N1.12trn Anchor Borrowers Scheme, NIRSAL’s N215b Loan

The House of Representatives has ordered probes into the N1.12 trillion anchor borrowers scheme, an initiative of the Federal Government’s interventions and agricultural funding through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Also included in the probe are the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry (BoI) and other agencies.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. Chike Okafor (APC-Imo) on the floor of the House in Abuja on Tuesday.

Presenting his motion, Okafor linked the growing food scarcity and malnutrition in Nigeria to the alleged mismanagement of agricultural funds intended for agricultural development in the country.

He said the Federal Government had expended N8 trillion in 8 years on various schemes and interventions in the last eight years with the view of making food available for millions of Nigerians.

He added that the alleged mismanagement, misapplication of funds and abuse of the programmes had left Nigeria with the twin challenges of food scarcity and malnutrition.

Okafor said that funds advanced to end users of the various Federal Government interventions had also been allegedly misused, misapplied and channelled to non-farming and non-agricultural purposes.

This, he said, was responsible for the current acute scarcity of food in the country.

Adopting the motion, the House mandated the Committee on Nutrition and Food Security as well as the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services; Agricultural Colleges and Institutions and Finance, to probe

The Committees were mandated to thoroughly investigate CBN’s alleged mismanagement of the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) for which ₦1.12 trillion was to be disbursed to 4.67 million farmers.

The farmers were said to be involved in either maize, rice or wheat farming through 563 anchors.

The committees are to look into NIRSAL’s disbursement of ₦215,066,980,274.52, to facilitate agriculture and agribusinesses.

The House gave the committees four weeks to report back to the House.

The house also mandated the committees to equally assess how the Bank of Industry (BOI) disbursed N3 billion to 22,120 smallholder farmers through the Agriculture Value Chain Financing (AVCF) Programme.

The committee is also to investigate the handling of the N5 billion loan facility to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) for livestock farmers across the country.

This will include the management of the National Agricultural Development N1.6 billion Recovery Fund for the Ginger Blight Epidemics Central Taskforce (GBECT).

This is for the control of Blight disease in Ginger, among other interventions. 

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