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High cost of food, cooking gas: South South residents seek FG intervention



Cooking gas: Consumers resort to firewood over rising cost

… As NEMA distributes relief materials to 510 victims of windstorm in Imo***

Residents in the South-South have sought Federal Government’s intervention in the ever-increasing cost of food items and cooking gas in the region.

The analysts who made the call in separate interviews said the government should stem the rising cost of the items through proper economic recovery plan and implementation.

They added that Nigerians should assist the government in minimising the excesses of middlemen and market associations in hiking the prices of commodities.

The residents also identified the major factors contributing to cooking gas price hike in the nation to include lack of functional refinaries and off-takers for gas distribution.

On prices of food, they identified market forces, insecurity, farmer/headers clashes, insurgency, banditry, poor storage facilities and COVID-19 outbreak as causes of food price hike in the country.

Although the analysts appreciated current government’s efforts in solving the problem, they advised that the intervention should be urgent as food was one of the basic necessities of life.

A civil servant in Asaba, Mr Vincent Adeoye, said: ‘’Our challenge has become double in the sense that the cost of food items is high likewise that of cooking gas.

”How do we survive in this present situation when we buy a cup of beans for N150 and one kilogramme of cooking gas for N700?

”Our salaries cannot even feed our families, not to talk of paying school fees and rent. It is only God who helps us to survive.

”The present economy is making things too difficult for us and I will appeal to the government to come to our rescue.”

Also, Mrs Deborah Diai, a civil servant, said she had resorted to using charcoal for cooking since ‘’the price of domestic gas is now within the reach of the rich.”

”Three kilogrammes of gas does not last up to five days for me, because we are family of six,” she said.

The Chairman, Ika Liquified Petroleum Gas Dealers Association, Mr Onyeka Eze, said the increase in the price of domestic gas had affected the consumption of the product in the area.

According to him, before now, a kilogramme of gas sold for between N300 and N320, but in the last six months, the price had gone up to N650 a kilogramme.

”Before this increment, we dispense as much as 100 kilogrammes daily, but as at today, it takes us almost three days to sell 50 kilogrammes of it.

Eze urged the federal government to intervene in the continual increase of the price of domestic gas.

In Rivers, Mr Livingston Wechie, a civil rights crusader, urged the government to tackle the situation, saying, ‘’basically, there’s a tremendous hike in cost of living.

“While commodity prices are on the increase, wages and remunerations have remained static even when only a few percentage of the country’s population earn salaries.”

Wechie urged government to reconsider a proper economic recovery plan to ensure that basic commodities for daily survival took precedence over any other infrastructure.

He lamented that the price of domestic cooking gas had gone up from N3,500 to almost N10,000 for 12.5 kilogrammes.

He also attributed the high cost of foodstuffs in the country to the challenge of insecurity, farmer/headers clashes, insurgence and banditory.

Similarly, the President, Etche Farmers Cooperative Union, Mr Godwin Akandu, urged government to reinvigorate the economy by ensuring direct funding of farmers and strengthening security.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunil Umar, an Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) mini tank farm operator, attributed the current hike in prices of cooking gas to lack of functional refineries.

Umar said the situation was compounded because of lack of off-takers, to effectively distribute the huge quantity of gas produced by the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG).

According to him, the NLNG has always allocated to the Nigerian market as much as 450,000MPTA quantity of gas from 2015 till date.

Also speaking on the high cost of cooking gas, Mr Victor Ohwodiasa, Operations Controller, Department Petroleum Resources (DPR), Uyo, attributed the increase to deregulation of the sector and market forces.

“The gas market is deregulated and is driven by market forces; so the issue of demand and supply comes into play.

‘’Another reason is that there are some tariffs that were imputed by government recently; so that is why the price has jumped up.

‘’If we talk of gas penetration, gas availability and gas reliability, then something should be done about the price,” he said.

Ohwodiasa however said that government was working hard to intervene and stabilise the price of cooking gas.

A housewife in Uyo, Mrs Glory Inyang, said that the high cost of cooking gas had affected the feeding allowance given to her by her husband.

“I used to buy 12.5kg of cooking gas for N3,750, but today I have just bought the same quantity for N10, 000; this is on the high side,” she said.

Another housewife, Mrs Margaret Joseph, lamented that both the cooking gas and food items had become exorbitant at the same time, causing lot a lot of hardship to Nigerians.

Similarly, the Edo Chairman of the Grassroots Farmers Association of Niger-Delta, Chief Emmanuel Odigie, has identified insecurity, activities of market associations and bad roads as reasons for high cost of foodstuffs.

Odigie claimed that the farmers/herders clashes had made it almost impossible for most farmers to access their farms for fear of being killed or kidnapped.

He also attributed the high cost of food and other commodities to the lack of interest in agriculture on the part the youths.

‘’The youths in our state are not interested in agriculture. All they do is travel abroad for greener pasture wh8those left behind hunt for white-collar jobs.

“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is also a major factor and as long as market associations exist, prices of foodstuffs and other agrucultural commodities will continue to rise,” he said .

Contributing, Dr Samuel Agoda, Agricultural Extension Officer, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Sapele, attributed the hike in prices of food to post harvest losses experienced by farmers.

“For the few farmers that are producing this period of insecurity, storage facilities is a major problem.

“Most of these crops go bad easily after harvest because of lack of storage facilities,” he said.

Agoda however noted that the federal government, through NSPRI, had developed series of post harvest technologies for farmers to store produce in the post harvest value chain.

In the meantime,  National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Sunday commenced the distribution of relief materials to 510 victims of windstorm in Owerri West council areas of Imo.

Acting Head of Imo and Abia operations office of the Agency, Mr Ifeanyi Nnaji said at the inauguration of the exercise that the gesture was in fulfilment of its promise to the victims during an asseessment visit of the disaster.

He said the affected communities that benefited from the relief distribution were: Obinze, Oforola and Olaukwu.

He said the items distributed to the victims included: 53 bags of 10kg rice, 53 bags of 10kg beans, 53 bags of 10kg gari, as well as three bags of salt.

Nnaji said the other items were: 106 pieces of mattresses, 159 bags of cement, 25 bags of nail, as well as 101 bundles of roofing sheets.

“We are here today to distribute relief materials worth millions of naira to the victims of windstorm in the affected areas as directed by the Federal Government.

“While I commiserate with the victims, I thank the Director-General of NEMA, Mr Ahmed Habib for his timely intervention,” Nnaji, added.

The newsmen report that windstorms had wrecked havoc in Owerri West council area recently and rendered many households homeless.



LASG Reiterates Ban On Commercial Motorcycles In Restricted Areas



LASG Reiterates Ban On Commercial Motorcycles In Restricted Areas

The Lagos State Government has reiterated that the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly called ‘okada’ in 10 Local Government Areas, (LGAs) and 15 Local Council Development Areas, (LCDAs) in the metropolis still persists.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Hon. Sola Giwa declared this at the weekend, while on tour of some restricted areas within the state, where large numbers of motorcyclists (okada riders) had resumed operations.  

Reaffirming the State Government’s ban on okada in the Local Government Areas which include; Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Somolu, Mushin, Apapa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Surulere and Eti-Osa, as well as the Local Council Development Areas under them which are; Ojodu, Onigbongbo, Lagos Island East, Yaba and Coker Aguda. With others at; Itire-Ikate, Eti-Osa West, Iru Victoria Island, Ikoyi-Obalende, Ikosi-Isheri, Agboyi-Ketu, Isolo, Ejigbo, Bariga and Odi-Olowo, the Transport Special Adviser urged both riders and passengers to keep off.

He implored the general public to comply as both the riders and passengers are liable to 3 years in prison if apprehended and prosecuted, with their motorcycles impounded and crushed in the public view, in line with the provision of Section 46, sub-section 1, 2 & 3 of the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018.

While soliciting support on government policies by all and sundry, the Special Adviser noted that despite the available existing interventions and viable alternatives provided for okada operators which were expected to cushion the effect of the ban on their livelihood, the recalcitrant riders have refused to take advantage of them.

Highlighting some of the viable alternatives made available for the operators by the State Government, Giwa stated that the; Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA); (vocational training), Ministry of Wealth Creations and Employment; (internship programmes), Office of Civic Engagement, Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) (Loan for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs), Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme “LEAP”) and the Ministry of Agriculture (Agric YES) are all trade support for the riders.

He also said the State Government’s First and Last Mile Bus Transport Scheme, the BRT Scheme, the Lagos e-hailing taxi Scheme (LAGRIDE) and other sustainable modes of transportation were also part of interventions provided to minimize the inconveniences of the motoring public in executing their daily activities.

Giwa averred that the position of government on okada is very clear, stressing that there is no going back in order to consolidate on the achievements made so far in the decrease in accident and crime rates as well as the return of sanity to the communities within the State.

He added that the Security formations who have been partnering with the State Government including the Nigeria Police Force, the Army, Navy and Air force are still on ground to sustain enforcement on all the banned corridors, as well as the State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) and the Anti-Okada Squad.

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Manufacturers urge FG to dialogue with NLC over plan to picket CBN offices



Manufacturers urge FG to dialogue with NLC over plan to picket CBN offices

…Says Business no longer lucrative***

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has urged the Federal Government to dialogue with the NLC on its planned picketing of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) offices nationwide.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President, Joe Ajaero on Wednesday directed workers to embark on strike over the lingering cash crunch and fuel scarcity.

Ajaero also directed that affiliate unions constituting the NLC should be on standby to picket all branches of the CBN nationwide during the strike which is expected to begin on Wednesday, March 29.

Dr Okwara Udensi Edo/Delta Chairman of MAN, in an interview in Benin, said embarking on strike was not the best option as it would compound the present sufferings of Nigerians.

“For us as manufacturers, strike is not the best option, dialogue is the best thing so that we will not suffer more.

“Embarking on industrial action will ground our businesses, road transport workers might join the strike and this will cripple our activities.

“But unfortunately, it seems strike is the language the government understands.

“I read on the news that the CBN says it will mop up the old N500 and N1,000 notes to commercial banks.

“Must people tell them they want to go on strike before they mop up cash to banks, he said.

He regretted that the manufacturing sector had continued to witness high costs of production, a situation that was not good for economic development.

“We now buy diesel for between N820 and N830 per litre, how many litres of diesel will you buy to run your generator to produce?

“Raw materials we used to pay between N350,000 and N400,000 to convey from Jos to Benin City in 2022 is now about N800,000 as of today.

“Business is no longer lucrative, profit margin has been swallowed by the high cost of production.

“Customers are not ready to buy at higher prices, manufacturers are just selling to stay afloat,’’ he said.

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Ojerinde: Absence of ex-JAMB Registrar’s children in court stalls alleged fraud arraignment



Ojerinde: Absence of ex-JAMB Registrar’s children in court stalls alleged fraud arraignment

The absence of the four children of Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, former Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), in a Federal High Court, Abuja, stalled their arraignment on Friday.

 Ojerinde and his children; Mary Funmilola, Olumide Abiodun, Adedayo and Oluwaseun Adeniyi, alongside their companies, were to be arraigned before the court.

Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde was a member House of Representatives at 9th Assembly representing Irepo/Orelope/Olorunsogo Constituency of Oyo State.

The Federal Government, through the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), had, in a charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/119/23, sued the Ojerindes on 17 counts bordering on money laundering.

Ojerinde and his companies are currently facing a money laundering trial before Justice Obiora Egwuatu.

The former JAMB boss was, on Jan. 26, re-arrested by the operatives of the anti-graft commission while he was heading to his car with one of his sons after trial Justice Egwuatu adjourned further proceedings in the charge preferred against him.

ICPC lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle had, on Feb. 15, notified Egwuatu that Ojerinde was re-arrested on suspicion that he might have committed some other offences not unconnected with the present charges before the court.

He said for this reason, the commission obtained a warrant from the court dated 6th of Dec, 2022 for his re-arrest.

But Ojerinde, in a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/179/2023, sued the commission for alleged unlawful detention and breach of his fundamental rights.

While Ojerinde’s suit before Justice Egwuatu was adjourned until May 4 for mention, his trial was fixed for the same date for hearing continuation.

The fresh criminal charge against Ojerinde and his children before Justice Ekwo, it was gathered, was connected to the latest finding by the anti-graft commission.

While the FG is the complainant, Ojerinde, Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, Cheng Marbles Ltd, Sapati International Schools Ltd, Trillium Learnings Centre Ltd,, Standout Institutes Ltd and Esli Perfect Security Partners are 1st to 7th defendants respectively.

Mary, Olumide, Adedayo and Oluwaseun are the 8th to 11th defendants in the trial.

Although they were not in court, they were represented by a lawyer, Ajibola Bello.

Upon resumed hearing, ICPC’s counsel, Henry Emore, informed the court that the matter was slated for the defendants to take their plea.

He said the 2nd to 7th defendants were corporate persons while the 8th to 11th defendants were natural persons.

Emore said though the defendants were to be arraigned, the 8th to 11 defendants were not in court.

He said the matter was filed on Monday and the court, on Wednesday, graciously gave them today for the defendants to take their plea.

He, however, said they were unable to serve the 8th to 11th defendants.

The lawyer prayed the court for a short adjournment.

Justice Ekwo directed Emore to serve their lawyer in open court since he was present.

“I grant you a leave to serve them now through their counsel. Let the court record shows that this is by leave of court.

“When a lawyer is representing defendants in court, it means that the lawyer knows the contact of the defendants and can reach them,” he said.

The judge, who adjourned the matter until April 19, said: “there shall be consequence if the defendants are not in court in the next adjourned date.”

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