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Abuja traders decry rising food prices, seek government’s intervention

Adeyanju also noted that the union had not seen a copy of the document submitted to Mr President and it would not accept any doctored document.

Abuja traders decry rising food prices, seek government’s intervention/Illustration [Vanguard News]

The residents and traders voiced their complaints in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday in Abuja.

Nduka Ndubisi, a foodstuff trader at Aco AMAC Market, said that the unpredictability of food prices had limited the trade, as they could no longer take large stock.

Ndubisi said, “The prices of most foodstuff items are currently unstable; we cannot even predict the prices anymore. This is tiring and frustrating.’’

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A resident of Aco AMAC estate, Victor Azikiwe, said that the rising cost of food items in the market was because of the hike in the price of petrol.

Azikiwe expressed concern that some sell a litre of petrol at ₦650 while others at ₦690, thereby affecting the cost of transportation of the goods.

“This contributed to the rise in food prices as the cost of transportation of foodstuffs across the country increased. For instance, Abuja to Ilorin is 18,000 as compared to 7,500 before now,” he said.

Another resident, Sherifat Musa, said that her major concern was how people, especially the Muslims, would cope with the situation during the Eid-El-Kabir celebration.

Musa stressed the need for the authorities to do the needful before things get out of control.

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“Our annual celebration is here. How do we buy all we need?

“I am scared of going to the Market because I don’t know what I’ll meet there. It’s scary because the hike in price keeps getting worse,” she said.

On her part, Hajiya Amoke Omole, a tomato and pepper trader at Gosa market, said that the “ups and downs’’ in the price of produce had made most traders wary of the trade.

“We do not even understand the situation; the price of foodstuff has been fluctuating for a while now.

“The price of tomatoes is also fluctuating; last week, we bought a basket-full for as high as ₦100,000; this week, it is ₦130,000 per basket which means the price is high and unpredictable.

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“Sometimes, when pepper becomes affordable, tomatoes become more expensive, but now everything is on the high side. In fact, pepper is now more expensive than tomatoes,” she said.

A civil servant, Ibrahim Sule, described food as one of the most important basic needs for survival.

Sule said that its availability and accessibility were very important to any nation because its unavailability could lead to civil unrest, untimely death, malnourishment and more.

Unfortunately, the price of food items in the markets has increased exponentially, daily.

“Nigerians have to spend more money these days before they can afford enough food for themselves and their families and this alone contributed enormously to the increase in food inflation.

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“The current situation is beyond explanation. I think we need to pray and seek the face of God for his divine intervention,” he said.

Oluwaseun Soleye, a student in the University of Abuja, said that only God could help in the situation affecting Nigerians and Nigeria as a whole.

Soleye opined that the country was suffering from a form of sin and God needed to forgive, “so we could overcome the issues bedevilling the country”.

“We have to turn to God and seek his forgiveness because what is happening goes beyond human explanation. Imagine noodles (Super pack) of N80 before, is now N400 per one.

“To many of us, life has never been so difficult than what we are going through. Many households cannot afford three meals in a day,” she said.

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Mrs Juliana Arome, a food seller, lamented low patronage by customers as a result of the hike in the price of commodities and the low purchasing power of citizens.

Arome revealed that she had reduced the quantity of food she sells to her customers as “everything has gone high”.

She, however, called on the government to salvage the people adding that there was a need for stability in the food supply.

“Imagine, Maggi moved from ₦700 to ₦1,300 per pack and Spaghetti is ₦850. We are not making any gain, government please help us, this is too much for us,” she said.

A trader, Mrs Bose Oluwole, who sells groceries and provisions at Wuse market, believed that President Tinubu could address the situation and provide solutions to the disturbing concern.

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Oluwole said, “Before we used to buy a bag of milk for 5,500, now it is ₦15,000.

“The loaf of bread that I used to buy from bakers at N600, now sells for N1600 to ₦2000 because of the high cost of the flour, milk and sugar.

“As traders, we are tired; we just sit under the sun getting nothing and we pay for shop and shade in the market,” she lamented., the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says its demand for the new National Minimum Wage remains ₦250,000.

The Acting President of NLC, Adewale Adeyanju, said this in a statement while reacting to President Bola Tinubu's Democracy Day speech on Wednesday, in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government had offered ₦62,000 as the new national minimum wage, at the end of the tripartite committee meeting, involving the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

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According to him, the union appreciates the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups.

Our demand still remains ₦250,000 only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are, therefore, surprised at the submission of Mr President over a supposed agreement.

“We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC.

“There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage,” he said.

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Adeyanju also noted that the union had not seen a copy of the document submitted to Mr President and it would not accept any doctored document.

He, however, reaffirmed the union’s belief that the president on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill whose content would reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers.

“We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and masses.

“That is by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria.

“Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty,” he said.

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According to him, the president’s advisers did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed.

“It is, therefore, important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government,” he alleged.

He added the NLC remained assured that the president’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.

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He also noted that NLC never agreed on a five-year duration of the minimum wage Act though acknowledged that the president mentioned five years or less.

According to Adeyanju, the union also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for a certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.

“Once again, we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates a starvation wage.

“We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

“We seek justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers.

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“This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised,” he said.

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