The rising prices of commodities II
By Muhammad Ajah
The prices of commodities in Nigeria are unbearably skyrocketing. There is nothing sold in the markets which has remained in its prices in the last one year. It is even an understatement. The prices of everything in the country are on the increase on monthly basis. And the masses are surely at the receiving end. One wonders why Nigerians prefer to die in silence. Or is it accepted that figuratively, Nigerians are the happiest species of humanity on earth?
Last year, I wrote an article entitled, the rising prices of commodities. This would serve as part two of the said article because after watching events for the past one year, things have gotten worse in prices. I want those who do not go to markets to ask their wives or friends because if nothing is done to forestall this development, it would be quite difficult to curtail the rate of forced criminality, anti-social and inhuman activities by the Nigerian underlyings. These are what the authorities at all levels of governance are empowered by the constitution to fight to a standstill.
Even in the villages where things are supposed to be as cheap as life itself, a common sachet of pure water is N10, not N5 as before. I used to believe that there can be no hunger in the villages. But to my surprise, discoveries have shown me that many of the youths deserting their villages to the cities are fleeing from hardship including malnutrition, lack of medical services as well as other social amenities. Quite unfortunate for a country blessed with so much wealth and peace.
Kerosene has become so expensive that the citizens have returned to the olden age of cooking with charcoal and firewood. Apart from deforestation which is a trend campaigned against by government due to its consequences on the environment, their prices are also becoming unbearable. I know that the official price of kerosene is N50 per litre. I went into a filling station in Abuja one day to buy the commodity and I was told it was N170 per litre. I could not contain my anger but I had no option because where I lived, there was no provision for the use of charcoal or firewood. But many people definitely began to get used to the old ways of cooking, thus adding to the environmental hazards caused by smokes from generators and vehicles due to the circulation of condescend fuel in many parts of the country. God really loves Nigeria, if not our air would have been polluted.
Fuel and kerosene should never be scarce in a country that has crude oil in abundance. In many parts of the country, despite the huge sums of money expended by the federal government on subsidy, these commodities have never sold at the official rates. In cities, the authorities try to enforce the official rates but what is happening in the villages where there is no money. The common man is continually in trouble in our blessed nation. Nigerians are fond of exploiting their compatriots when there are difficult situations. It is not only applicable to dealers on gasoline products, it is all over. Every Nigerian business men and women enjoy exploitation. It is quite difficult to recognize those who apply religious ethics in business by avoiding double standard or exploitation.
One of the greatest challenges to this exploitative tendency is lack of NNPC mega stations in many areas of high demand due to population density. One NNPC mega station in every State is just not enough to fight corruption in that circle. The only explanation that can be given whenever there is scarcity is that Nigeria imports refined crude oil products. This calls for laughter. Why should Nigeria be importing fuel and kerosene? Is it a pride or a shame that we export our crude oil to other countries and then pay heavily to import the refined product? It is unimaginable what the leadership of NNPC which is responsible to make our refineries functional is doing. Day after day, we are told stories that things will change. Yes things do change but to the worse. This has lasted since the return of Nigeria to democratic governance. And the more we expect solutions, the more our expectations are dashed.
“We have barges loaded with kerosene at the wharf”, this is a statement from our oil chiefs. Somebody suggested once during a programme called Political Platform at the 100.5 FM that all the directors in the downstream sector including the Group Managing Director should be sacked for this singular long hardship Nigerians have suffered since January. Another person suggested that they should be probed because definitely monies meant for the development of the sector have not been utilized. Can Waziri's EFCC beam its torch to this sector? Why is Nigeria importing kerosene?
Food stuff is no exception. Independent survey showed that prices of a bag of garri, rice, beans, onion, potato, flour, among others have added by over forty percent. The same thing is observed in the prices of sugar, tooth paste and other toiletries. A bag of garri is now N8,000 while that of rice is between N8,000 and N10,000 depending on the type, because most of them are imported. God forbid that one day Nigeria may begin to import garri and salt. Mr. President should do something about our refineries and also look into the management of NNPC.
Cement and other building materials have gone very high in prices. Many Nigerians who had been struggling to secure a shelter through their minimum wages had to halt their attempts. While the masses are crying over all these, the cities witness constructions of high rising buildings. Who should tell who to stop stealing? The rot is just too much that the nation needs cleansing.
Educational demands are on the rise too. Transportation is going up. Even religious leaders are also charging higher for their services. Whither the so-much contended minimum wage which state governors are still foot-dragging to accept. Maybe the President should review it upwards, at least to N30,000, if the worsening situation cannot be curtailed and the social security Nigerian masses dearly need remain elusive.
Government should consider operating welfare markets for civil servants. In such markets, commodities would be sold at cheaper rates to check the shylock-minds of independent markets. Civil servants would benefit from such markets as they can deposit part of their minimum wages to procure their monthly needs from the markets. But such markets must be situated within the Federal, State and local government secretariats and monitored very strictly to guard against misuse and mismanagement. Which way, Nigeria!
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja E-mail: [email protected]