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Nigerians stockpile foodstuffs days to election



• Prices hit roof  top

Indications have emerged across the country that people have been stockpiling food stuffs and other household items ahead of the general elections slated for Saturday, March 28 and April 11, 2015.

Findings of Newswatch Times’ correspondents across the country revealed that people who are involved in the panic buying of food stuffs are those who are nursing the fear of the possibility of the election turning violent, and as a result of the development, prices of food items have gone up nationwide.

Markets in Kaduna metropolis and environs have continued to witness an unusual rush for foodstuffs and other basic amenities. Residents have continued to stockpile the basic needs planning for the unknown as the election approaches in case there is curfew.

Traders were making brisk business in the two main markets visited within the town by our correspondent. The market visited were the popular Monday market in Kakuri area in the southern part of the town and Chechiniya Market in the northern part of the state capital.

At Monday market in Kakuri, a trader who simply identified herself as Madam Joan told Newswatch Times that business was good even though many people were complaining that there was no money.

Her words, “yes we are selling, people are buying our products but some are buying on credits and others will tell you to reduce the price for them because there is no money in town”.

She continued that many at times she was forced to sell at a lower price just to increase her turnover.

A customer in Chechiniya Market, Yohanna Monday, noted that there was tension over the coming polls and one has to take precaution.

“There is uncertainty in town, I’m just trying to buy a few things for my family in case we are unable to go out. But we are praying that there is no problem. We want a peaceful election. God should give us a leader that will make Nigeria a better place,” he said.

The situation is the same in major towns in Plateau State. Some said they don’t want to be caught in the episode of 2011 post election violence where there was no food to buy and prices of foodstuff hiked during the crisis.

Newswatch Times went round some of the major shopping malls in Jos the state capitals. Long queues have begun to surface in most of the banks as people walk in to access their funds to purchase necessary materials ahead of the polls.

At the Onigbinde Store Supermarket, Ahmadu Bello Way Jos, the commercial nerve centre of Plateau State, the Manager Mr. Daniel Esu said the shopping mall has witnessed massive turn out of people in recent times.

He said some of the people came to purchase foodstuffs to preserve ahead of the polls to avoid any circumstance that could be beyond their expectations.

Esu noted that despite the high purchase by people, the Onigbinde Store has not increased the price of any commodity as it is not in their character to hike price of goods without any change in price in the market.

He added that the shopping complex is one of the busiest malls in the state as it has stable price and with quality products.

Meanwhile, at the Hill Station Round About, shop owners in the area complained that there was low purchase of goods by the customers.

The sale manager blamed the situation on lack of money in the state, saying “people don’t have money, so there is bad market now as I am talking to you.

It is interesting to note that most of the foodstuffs bought by the customers in large quantity include rice, Semovita, groundnut oil, milk among others.

Ahead Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, prices of major food items have shut up in major markets in Ibadan, with many of them going up by as much as 35 percent.

People were also rushing to buy the items, notwithstanding, because of fears of aftermath the elections.

Investigation carried out at Bodija,Oritamerin and Adelabu markets, all in Ibadan showed that scores of people now flock there, buying up mainly food items such as garri, rice, beans ,vegetable oil and melons, among others.

A ‘Peacock’ brand of rice which used to be N7,500 per bag now costs N8,700. In the same vein, a bag of beans (oloyin) which used to cost N5,750 now goes for N6,200. Gaari which used to go for N700 is now N1000 per gallon .Egusi (melon) is now N850 as against the former price of N650 per ‘Kongo’. Other sundry items have also attracted higher prices.

Some traders spoken with said people were not deterred by the high prices of the food items and were rushing to buy them out of fears over the forthcoming election.

A trader at Bodija market, Mrs Bisi Olatunde, revealed: “People are rushing here to buy food products out of fears over the elections. I think they are stockpiling the items in their homes because of fears of unknown over the election.”

A house wife who identified herself as Mrs Grace Atilola equally revealed that she was at Oritamerin market to buy food items in order not to be caught off guard by any unusual development after the election.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone ll, AIG Ikemefuna Okoye, has reiterated the readiness of the police in the zone to ensure adequate protection of the electorate, election materials, electoral officers and other stakeholders in the forthcoming elections .

AIG Okoye gave the assurance yesterday in Ibadan during a familiarization meeting with the Police Community Relation Committee (PCRC) members and other stakeholders.

The meeting which was held at the Oyo State Police Command Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan,the State capital had in attendance, the state Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration, DCP Chika Maidama who stood in for CP Muhammad Kastina; the Oyo State Police Community Relation Committee, (PCRC) chairman, Adewale Adepesan, market leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders.

AIG Okoye stressed that security is everybody’s business, stressing that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the elections are violence free.

The police chief also counselled parents on the elections, declaring: “talk to your children and other people to ensure that the coming elections are peaceful.

“Tell them to eschew violence. That crisis may consume you or your family. If you plan evil, it will come to you,” he counselled.

Investigations by the Newswatch Times revealed that the prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities, such as rice, beans, grains, ingredients and eggs that are usually in high demand have also soared in Kwara State.

Traders, however, attributed the reasons for the hike in price to the forthcoming polls, high cost of transportation occasioned by scarcity of fuel, amongst others.

In Ipata, Ago and Baboko markets all in the State capital, our checks indicated that the prices of rice, beans, cooking oil had gone up. Some traders in the markets visited attributed the rising cost of food stuff to the fast approached elections “which is expected to keep many people at home, while the major markets would also be closed down to allow the electorate exercise their franchise in addition to personal costs incurred by retailers from suppliers”.

The survey in some markets showed that the prices of a bag of the various brands of imported rice had gone up to between N8,500 and N10,000 as against the former price of between N7,500 and N8,000 few days ago. Similarly, a bag of beans, which formerly sold for between N11,500 and N12,000 had also increased to N13,000.

Mallam Mohammed Garuba, who deals in grains at Ago market in Ilorin metropolis, attributed the rising cost of foods to “the forthcoming presidential polls and personal costs incurred by retailers”.

The survey also indicated that the price of perishable goods like tomatoes have gone up with a big basket of the commodity selling for between N11,500 and N15,000 as against the former price of between N5,500 and N8,000.

A respondent who spoke with Newswatch Times decried the high cost of foodstuffs “because of elections” and appealed to traders to be reasonable in fixing prices of foodstuffs, more importantly the craze to make quick money during this period.

Also affected are imported foods including frozen fish and vegetable oil which prices moved up by 10 per cent in the last few days. The cost of frozen fish had increased with a medium sized fish selling for between N250 and N350 as against the former price of between N150 and N200.

Ten litres of foreign vegetable oil, which formerly sold for between N2,800 and N3,000 now go for between N4,00 and N4,500 depending on the brand, while a bag of big brown beans is now sold for N18, 200 as against the former price of N16,000.

A tomato seller at Oko-Olowo ingredients’ market, Malam Aboki Dogo, said the price of a basket of tomatoes had gone up to N13,000 as against the old price of between N5,500 and N8,000.

According to Mrs. Awawu Sulaiman, who sells fish in Baboko market, the price of 20 kg carton of Sabina fish had increased from N6, 500 last week to N7, 000.

Mrs. Iyabo Adeogun, a house wife, who lamented the increases in the cost of food foodstuffs, said she could no longer maintain the food needs of her family of three. She pleaded with the government to revive the Price Control Board with a view to checking the activities of shylock food sellers so as to make food affordable.

A random market survey carried out by the Newswatch Times in Port Harcourt showed an upward trend in the prices of food stuff in the metropolis almost two weeks now in spite of the cash crunch biting government and individuals in the state.

A bag of average quality rice which sold for N10, 000 a few weeks before now sold for between N10, 500 and N11,000 while a standard custard container of rice has jumped from N900 to N1,000 in virtually all the markets visited.

In a similar vein, one normal basin of garri has moved from N1, 400 two weeks ago to N1, 700 while one average size tuber of yam which sold for N500 would not sell for less than N650. In Port Harcourt, almost all the eating joints visited have either decreased the quantity or quality of food which initially sold for N250 or increased the price to N300.

Some of the traders and consumers interviewed revealed that prices were expected to increase following the outcome of the presidential election as fears that violence might erupt in parts of the country increased. Some of the traders said that the price of imported food stuff would surely increase as the exchange rate continued to favour the dollar.

Newswatch Times

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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