By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Festus Ahon, Ike Uchechukwu, Davies Iheamnachor, and Emem Idio
HOUSEWIVES in the South-South region have disproved the claim by the Presidency that prices of food items have dropped in the country, following the agricultural reforms of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), describing it as deceptive.
The housewives, who grumbled that the prices of food items have hit the roof from what they were in 2015 when President Buhari took over the government from former President Goodluck Jonathan, impacting negatively on their lean funds, asserted that they and their children were suffering untold hardship.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, on a recent Television program, stated: “To say the cost of food items is connected to the closure of the borders is absolutely wrong. And to say that the prices of food are not coming down, I think the scholar has detached himself from the market because we sat through the meeting of the National Food Security Council and we heard presentations by experts – people who had surveyed the markets.”
“As of yesterday (September 10), in the morning of the meeting, go and check the index in markets. For instance in Kano, millets that had gone up to N24, 000 has now come down to N12, 000, N13, 000. Rice that had been N25, 000 is now N20, 000. Maize is now N18, 000 for the old stock and N14, 000, N15, 000 for the new stock,” Shehu asserted to justify his argument.
From Delta state, a visibly disturbed housewife, Mrs. Ngozi Smart, said: “There is no sincerity in the claim of President Muhammadu Buhari that the prices of foodstuffs have or are dropping. As a matter of fact, the prices of foodstuffs in this Buhari’s regime have drastically increased.”
“Here is a comparison of what the prices of some foodstuffs were before Buhari came into power May 29, 2015, and what it is currently; a bag of rice (foreign) before 2015 was N10,500, but now N30,000, a bag of local rice in 2015 was N6,000, now it is N22,000.
“Basin of garri in 2015 was N3, 000, now N11, 000; a cup of beans in 2015 was N30 now N120; an average tuber of yam in 2015 was N200 now N600; sizeable ice fish in 2015 was N100, now N650.
“Cup of egusi in 2015 was N60 now N250; chicken (old layer) in 2015 was N800/N900 now N2,000; chicken (broiler) in 2015 was N1,800/ N2000, but now N3,500/N4,000; a basket of tomatoes in 2015 was N6000 now N25,000.
“With these contrasting prices, it is undoubted that the Buhari -led administration has not kept its promises concerning the prices of foodstuffs and on the economy at large,” she said.
At Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa state, a mother, Mrs. Edaere Ebi, lamented: “The policies of the APC- led federal government has not in any way helped our cause. I will rather say we are suffering, imagine prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed since the APC led central government came on board.”
Madam John Oyinmiebi, a mother of six, who also spoke from Bayelsa, asserted: “What is happening here in our beloved country is enough to trigger massive upheaval as witnessed in North Africa. Sadly, the recent hike in fuel price will further impact negatively on the cost of foodstuff. It is more painful hearing the Presidency insulting our sensibility with its distorted claim that prices are dropping.”
Others spoke in the same vein, insisting that the administration’s agricultural policies were in disarray and not in reality with its claim of quashing food prices.
From our finding in Bayelsa, the worth of food items 2015 and 2020 were: a bag of rice (foreign) – N10, 000 and N34, 000; a bag of rice (local) – N6000 and N28,000; basin of garri– N1200 and N4,000; one cup of beans- N40-50 N80/N100; one tuber of yam – N300-400 and N600-1000; a cup of egusi (melon) – N50 and N400; chicken (old layer) -N1200 and N3200; broiler- N1600 and N4000.
At Calabar, Cross River state, housewife and foodstuff dealer, Mrs. Stella Ikechukwu, disclosed: “The price of one bag of foreign rice before is N16, 000 but now N29, 000; bag of local rice from N12, 000-N13, 500 to N20, 000; basin of garri from N5, 000 to 10,000; one cup of beans is N80 before three cups were N200; an average tuber of yam is N800- N1, 200, before it was N250.”
“We buy ice fish (sardine) for N200 /N250 now, before it was N100 or N150 while Titus is now N500/ N700 from the former N250 /N400; a cup of egusi – N150 /N200 instead of N100/ two cups –N 250; chicken (broiler) – N 2500 / N3, 500, before it was N1500 /N 2000; a basket of tomatoes currently N20, 000 – N25, 000, before it was N12, 000 – N16, 000,” she said.
In Rivers state, a mother, MrsConfidence Amadi stated: “Things are still very expensive in the market. There is no reduction in price anywhere. If they have such a market in Abuja where things are sold cheap they should bring it to Port Harcourt.”
“Here, a bag of foreign rice is still sold at N34, 000 while the local rice is sold for N26, 000 and N27,000. A cup of foreign rice is N150 and local is N100.
“A basin of garri in Port Harcourt is N7000. A cup of beans is N70 foreign beans and N60 for others. An average tuber of yam is between N700 and N1000, while a big tuber is N1500 and N2000.
“Small iced fish is sold for N250. A cup of egusi is N250, a kilo of broiler chicken is still N1500, old layer is N1400 and jumbo- N1700. Now, here one basket of tomatoes is N8000,” she said.
Also speaking, another housewife, Mrs. Chituru Owhondah, said no price has reduced, adding: “In fact, it is even worse now because if you go to market with N5000, you cannot buy what you will make soup and stew with.”
Owhondah said: “A bag of foreign rice is between N34, 000 N35, 000 and local rice is between N26, 000 and 27,000. A cup of foreign rice is N150 while local is N110.
“A basin of garri is N4000 to N5000 in the villages, while here in Port Harcourt,it is still sold for N7000 to N8000. A cup of foreign beans is N70 while normal one is N60. An average tuber of yam is between N600, N800 and N1000, while a big tuber is between N1500 and N2000.
“Small iced fish is sold for N200, a cup of egusi is N250, one kilo of broiler chicken is N1500 and the old layer is N1400.
“We are calling on the government to do something about the worsening prices of food items because the masses are suffering. We can manage lack of money but not high prices of food items,” she said.