For occupants of police barracks in a Third World country like Nigeria, living is not such a pleasant experience. OGUNBAMOWO ELIZABETH writes on the deplorable condition of police barracks, coupled with moral decadence that is highly characteristic of such quarters
State of the facilities
A visit to different Police barracks across Lagos reveals an appalling and repulsive state of living for residents. Typically and by observation, the building of barracks are uniformly miserable, just like the case of the Idimu police barracks on Egbeda road, area of Lagos. While some of the paths in the barracks are tarred, others are untarred and tattered.
The houses are built homogeneously with each block having up to eight apartments in them.
The buildings are of varying colours: while some are ash-coloured, others have cream colours on them but all the buildings have one thing in common which is the high-quality red aluminum roofing sheet. Each flat has a moderately spacious balcony which sometimes serves as a place for entertaining visitors; leading to a mini-kitchen which adjoins the sitting room to the balcony.
The sitting room is built in a modest square-like manner with maximum capacity of a three-seater sofa, a love-seat and an armchair, a small space for the wallsocket where the TV would be plugged and an opening in the middle of the room where the kids gather for their meals. At a corner of the sitting room, is a door that leads to two bed rooms while the outer one for children and the innermost room serving as the master bedroom.
A door links the rooms to a passageway that is definitely a connection to the rest rooms provided for half of the block. Some of the flats have three-bedrooms. Unfortunately however, some of the buildings, New Telegraph observed, have cracks in them and seem to be on the verge of collapse.
Surprisingly no one (visitors and residents of this barrack) seems to care about the state of facilities, but the effect is something they cannot do away with. Going by New Telegraph observation, most of the ceilings of the buildings have seen better days as they have now worn out, tattered and scattered by the wind or thunderstorm. Some of the blocks within the barrack have their septic tank opened with flies buzzing around them.
Considering the current condition of the barracks, residents speak with New Telegraph on their hopes, disappointments and expectations.
Iya Aishat, as she preferred to be addressed, an officer’s wife, spoke on the state of the facilities. “In this country, things are always like this. The real people that are serving the nation are made to suffer while the people who enjoy most are those that corrupt the system. The state of the facility here is not so good.”
Her major complaint is lack of water supply in the barracks. According to her, occupants of the barracks buy water with their money when there is a lengthy period of power outage. The inadequate toilet facility is also a source of inconvenience to her family as her family share a bathroom and toilet with her neighbour, who does not care about sanitation of the rest room.
Iya Aishat added that though the roofing sheet is of high quality, the ceiling used with it is very poor such that when a strong wind blows, the ceiling scatters. In a similar vein, Mama Chigozie, also a police officer’s wife, said that the facilities in the barracks are poor and disheartening for her.
For her, it is as if the occupants are not human beings deserving of decent living. She still stays in the barracks because her retired husband has not been paid his pension. “Right now, we are supposed to be in our own house enjoying the fruit of years of toiling but what do we get in return? Endless wait!” She surmised. She declared that for many years, her family had migrated from one barrack to another with the hope that barrack life will end someday, but now, that hope seems so bleak.
For Miss Cynthia, her anger is not directed at the government that refused to reward police officers appropriately but at her father, a squanderer who had limited his family’s accommodation option to a barracks apartment. “With my father’s entire savings, we could have gotten a nice apartment or even our own house but my dad invested it in a ghost business because we never got to know the name or nature of the business and today, we have nothing left. See where we are staying now.
The other side of the barracks is even better than here. They did not even complete the renovation of this house,” she said. Cynthia however called on the government to look into the condition of the facilities and provide what is suitable for them. Another officer’s wife who is not comfortable with the condition of situations at the barracks, Iya Ayo, lamented the state of the facilities.
“We have a borehole in this barracks but it is not connected to the The ceiling used is very poor. When a strong wind blows, the ceiling scatters flats. Whenever we want water, we go outside to fetch for free but we pay for water only when there is no electricity supply and that is what we have been having for some time now.”
On the issue of electricity supply, she asserted that prior to this time, the barrack light was funded by the government which in turn, is deducted from the officers’ salaries but that recently, the power distribution company started bringing bills to the barracks which is a challenge the residents took up, by appointing a leader to handle the contributions.
The leaders however turned out to be a disappointment as they pay the bills anytime they wish. She said that the toilet is still manageable but when the soak-away gets filled, residents find it difficult to contribute money for the dung to be cleared.
It would be recalled that some years ago, the residents of police barracks welcomed the ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan with open arms and smiles on their faces only to have a portion of their estate taken from them with the promise of providing a modern estate at an affordable rate.
Construction work started fully in the Goodluck Jonathan Estate. After the construction, the estate became what an average police officer could not afford with a towering fence spelling the gap between the poor and the rich. Speaking with New Telegraph, an officer who pleaded anonymity, revealed that the land upon which the Goodluck Jonathan estate is built belongs to the barracks but before now, the land served as a farm land for the barracks.
And when the construction was about to start, the ex-president and the people involved in the construction promised to make housing units in the estate affordable for police officers from the rank of a constable. “But when they started the construction, they built a demarcation between us and those that can afford it. They even promised to build these ones we are living in like those ones but will they do it?” He asked with a forlorn look on his face.
He added that a renovation work started in the barracks during that period as a way of compensating the officers but the building materials used are substandard except the roofing sheet, which he believes is of high quality. According to him, the doors are not good and cannot be locked due to the fact that the door hinges, knobs and handles are bad and broken coupled with the rusted iron they are made of which gives an opportunity for thieves to collect things from people’s homes. “We told them that time that the materials were not of good quality and that they were not fixing it well but they refused to listen to us.
They said it is none of their business. We thought that the job would be supervised before they pay the contractor but it didn’t happen that way. They practically paid the contractor, even before he completed the job without supervision. We were lost and had to accept it that way.
There are some buildings that are not even completed in this barracks but people are living in them like that and that is not supposed to be so.” The officer added that the fence erected by the constructors of Goodluck Jonathan Estate has been a constant source of worry to residents of the barracks as it causes erosion anytime it rains.
This, made the occupants of the barracks employ the services of people who dug a gully to accomodate the erosion but when it rains, the gully overflows into people’s homes. “People find it difficult to come out of their houses during rainy season.” he said. Meanwhile, New Telegraph also observed that amidst the substandard facilities provided, the life on barracks is not so encouraging either. However, good still thrive.
Life on Barracks
It was 10am. Madam Kofo crawled out of bed in her taffeta wrapper, stretched and gave a long yawn to signify a deserved night rest. She lumbered to the mini- kitchen to boil water for corn meal. Then, there was a stop. Suddenly, a frantic search began. “Where is my match box?” she queried to no one in particular.
She started swearing and cursing at whoever took her matchbox, swearing to have left it under the kitchen table mat the previous night. In her thirst for the pap, she called to her neighbour, Mama Chinedu to lend her a match stick which Mama Chinedu declined to, claiming that her match box had been with Madam Kofo for over a week, adding that poverty has eaten deep into Madam Kofo’s life so that she could not afford a matchbox for preparing her meals. In fury, Madam Kofo dashed to Mama Chinedu’s standing point to land her a heavy slap on the latter’s left cheek. Pandemonium erupted with a resultant no-victor, no-vanquished battle.
Both women left with a curse on their lips with a threat to punish the other when the time comes. A walk past the rows of buildings through the barracks medical centre to the adjoining street reveals some young men with rolls of cigarette and wrappers of marijuana alongside some bottles of alcoholic beverages like dry gin, beer, Alomo, Codeine and other unnamed drinks. At exactly 2pm, the much younger ones troop in from their various schools with the little ones on multi-coloured uniform of check yellow shirt and blue shorts with a green band around the elbow.
These are children from the nearby police children school in the area. The teens are clothed in clothes of various colours, a symbol of their different secondary schools. As the caravan move in designed clusters, curse and swear words were exchanged between individuals and groups. Suddenly, laughter would erupt from a group over the folly of members of the opposing party.
Speaking with some of the children, New Telegraph gathered that swear words for the children are like candies they chew gleefully.
Miracle, an 11-year-old boy that stays in the barracks with his parents said, “I was born and brought up here. All these might sound as insult to your ears but for us, it is fun and nothing more. I love this people because we live like family. We already understand each other. So, I know that it is no offence. ”
He however said that some of the insults might lead to a fight between two persons if the word is too extreme for the other person to accommodate but he asserted that the children have the spirit of sharing.
“Auntie, all these people that have just insulted each other now, will come to the field to share biscuits and other goodies and even play in the same team. We have good hearts.” Joshua, an undergraduate within the barracks, said that truly, life in barracks is not morally sound for a child’s upbringing but he believes that a child is the replica of his parents.
“If a child’s parents are morally sound and they bring him up like that, there is a 90 per cent possibility of following their ways but if they are not moral sound enough and they want to force morality down his throat, he would not hesitate to throw it up in their faces.”
He believes that children of police officers ought to be disciplined and watch out for the law but since some of the law enforcement agents are the ones who violate the law, it is left in the hands of individual officers to train their children to become what they want them to be. For Joshua, it does not matter where a child stays, parental influence is key.
A police officer, who spoke on an anonymous basis, said that the life on barracks is decayed considering all that he had seen over the years. “Police children are corrupt but their parents made them so. Some of the boys on this barracks take hard drugs like food and their parents know about it.
They do nothing. Some of the children even do betting right under their parents’ nose, yet the parents say nothing to it. We organized a barrack meeting where we discussed all these things but those people rise up against us to protect their children.” He revealed that some police officers even bring in hard drugs into the barracks for their children claiming to be above the law and that nothing can happen to them.
“Some of them have their reasons; they say that because they are retired and their children are their bread winners, anything the child can do to bring in money, legal or illegal is permitted. But I know that there would soon be an end to this.” He however stated that there are still good and morally sound children in the barracks but bad influencers are everywhere to dissuade them from the right track.
Some Police Officers Don’t Stay in Barracks
However, New Telegraph gathered that some police officers do not stay in the barracks because of the barrack lifestyle among other things.
Mrs. Patricia, an officer’s wife, said that her children can never live in the barracks based on many reasons. First of which is her husband’s strong objection to barracks facilities and lifestyle. She also averred that children who stay in the barracks are usually subjected to degrading treatments by people around them. She said that when she was still single and working in a restaurant, she discovered that some of the children who stay in the barracks submit application letters with different address because of fear of being rejected.
This, according to her is the way of selection by employers to avoid employing the wrong set of people. “I would not want my children to be in such situations. The truth is that even when a child is qualified for a post, they might reject him because he stays on barracks. People even use the lifestyle of barracks adult to show how vicious they are. They try to paint themselves as people that were brought up in police barracks who would not hesitate to deal with you if you don’t heed to them.”
Mama Esther, a female police officer, whose husband is also a police officer, said that the life in barracks is not what she desires for her children. According to her, “living in a police barracks might make a child irresponsible, careless, non-ambitious and have a lack of motivation because of what happens around them.
Though, the way a child is brought up goes a long way in determining the type of adult he would grow into, but, environment matters too.” She said that there are many cases of having police children turning into professional criminals who know how to get away with a crime without being punished for it.
She added that, the police ought to rid the country of crime and not to add to it and she would leave no stone unturned in making her children disciplined, responsible and worthy of all her efforts on them. Mama Esther added that the lifestyle in the barracks is highly characteristic of spiritual attacks against one another because of the high level of competition in the barracks. “Nobody wants another person to be better than them or their children.” However, there are some parents who stay in the barracks but who do not train their children there, one of which is Mrs. Patricia.
Mrs. Patricia, mother of four, stays in barracks with her family but without her grown children around her. She revealed that her family stays in the barracks because of the poor financial status of the family but based on the lifestyle of the children in the barracks, she doesn’t allow her kids stay with her by sending them to boarding school once they are through with their primary education.
“I don’t want them to influence my children negatively” “The way the youth in the barrack live their lives is not encouraging at all. It is not easy to train a child in the barracks at all. Most of the children you see here, when they finish secondary school, join cult. They start smoking cigarette and taking alcohol and misbehave a lot.” For Mrs. Patricia, some parents only know how to birth a child; they do not know how to train them. Some parents on the barracks leave their children untrained.
This, she believes, is responsible for the waywardness of police children.
The police officer, who spoke on an anonymous basis, said that parents should train their children in the way they want them to grow. But he also believes that everyone is his neighbour’s keeper. Thus, he implored every police officer to keep a watchful eye on the activities of children in the barracks.
Iya Ayo believes that the waywardness of barracks youth would be minimized if the government could make certain provisions such as scholarship schemes, free entrepreneurial lectures, vocational training, and capital to start business for youths. She also suggested that there should be a monitoring squad like the Vigilante to watch out for the activities of hoodlums inside the barracks and arrest them if necessary.
All await the long grains of Cross River
The quest for food sufficiency and resort to agriculture is a mantra that is fast spreading across the country. In words and deeds, many leaders are preaching the need for agriculture. In Cross River, the world is waiting for the long grain rice, which the state promised. CLEMENT JAMES reports from Calabar
Last year, the Nigerian Customs Service in Cross River State impounded about 1,521 (50kg) bags of foreign parboiled rice which were ferried into the Cross River State through its borders with neigbouring countries.
The Customs Area Controller for the Calabar free trade zone and Akwa Ibom area command, Patience Nanbyen Burromvyat, who made this disclosure, identified the routes as Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea.
That same year, the Nigerian Navy arrested two boats, which entered the country through the eastern waterways with a total of 671 bags of rice and 22 people on board.
One of the boats carried 14 Nigerians with 550 bags of rice, while the other carried eight Cameroonians with 121 bags of rice.
According to the then Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir, the boats were arrested by men of the Command on board of “Nigerian Navy Ship Makurdi” while on sea patrol.
Clearly, the motivation for this importation or in most cases, smuggling of rice into the country, even against national interest, is the huge profit that is associated with it. Indeed, before the Federal Government started waging war against importation of foreign rice into the country, billions of Naira was being frittered away in foreign exchange.
The lucrative nature of such business has however continued to serve as an alluring factor for those who care little or nothing about national interest.
Apart from the fact that foreign exchange is thrown away through importation of what can be safely and conveniently produced, the attendant job losses have contributed to the army of young Nigerians, who roam the streets in idleness.
To stimulate interest in made-in-Nigeria rice, the Federal Government initiated the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme with the aim of facilitating massive production of rice and its uptake by Nigerians.
In Cross River State, the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, realizing that easy access to loan facility by rice farmers is key to the overall success of the rice revolution, caused the state to key into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
So far, not less than 12,415 farmers have benefited from the scheme in the state, according to the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Revenue, who is also in charge of the programme, Mr. Emmanuel Akwaji.
He said farmers in all the Local government areas were provided with improved variety of rice seedlings, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and cash to facilitate cultivation of the produce.
He explained that successful farmers were selected after a rigorous screening process which included the validation of Bank Verification Number (BVN), and visits to rice farms to ascertain the readiness of each farmer in order to ensure that the beneficiaries had all the requirements as laid down by the Central Bank.
“We went through the different stages of the programme; we started by enrolling the farmers and visiting their farm sites for inspection, validation of BVN numbers and so on. We thoroughly screened the list of pre-qualified farmers before arriving at the number of real beneficiaries to ensure that all those who benefited were genuine farmers and not portfolio ones,” Akwaji explained.
Perhaps, it was to contribute to the Federal Government’s initiative in rice production that the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade last year unveiled some bags of rice tagged; “Ayade rice,” which he claimed, was produced and packaged at the rice village in Ogoja.
In view of the huge interest in rice cultivation by many people in the state, the governor has since followed up this interest by constructing a multi-million dollar Rice City currently being undertaken in partnership with the Thai-Africa group.
The project, which covers over 3,000 hectares of land, is located along the Goodluck Jonathan bypass in Calabar.
According to the governor, when operational, the project is expected to produce specie of rice that is “highly vitaminized” and good for local consumption and export.
The effort of government to complement the Calabar Rice City and create its brand in the rice sector has resulted in the construction of the state of the art rice mill in Ogoja.
Our correspondent recently undertook a visit to the rice plant and discovered that it is set to commence business.
For instance, virtually all the equipments have been installed.
From the Intelligent DC series colour sorter of large capacities which helps in mass and high speed data transmission system with a strong anti-jamming power, to CCD colour sorter which has high quality trough with an extra width of 300mm, the plant is merely awaiting commissioning.
This sorter has a special anodizing treatment technique which ensures high quality yield.
There is a combined structure of track transmissions and the colour sorting. The stable transmission of materials is able to effectively increase the take out ratio and the net sorting accuracy rate, and this, in turn, will effectively reduce the percentage of damages of the materials in the process of colour sorting.
Our correspondent noticed a rail-like facility which meanders through the expansive hall with the job of sieving the rice, making sure that no stone or any other external element is allowed into the long grain specie.
The rice milling machine consists of two chambers. The first one is the huller. This chamber removes the rice hull. When the hull is removed, the rice becomes brown rice. Brown rice is passed to the next chamber to polish. Polishing is the removal of the outer layer of the brown rice. This layer is also called bran.
When the bran is removed, the rice becomes polished rice and another machine is handed the responsibility of coating it with protein material to become coated rice like the imported rice.
The import of this sophisticated technology in rice production did not go unnoticed as the leadership of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, led by its national Vice President, Segun Atto, recently commended the governor for constructing a state-of-the-art mill which is regarded as the best in Africa with the capacity to generate N100 billion revenue annually.
Atto said:“What we have seen so far is very incredible because this is the first time I am seeing this type of thing in the whole country. We are so impressed with what we are seeing today. When we were invited to come and witness what is going to happen here, we never envisaged seeing this kind of facilities.”
While assuring that the group will partner the state, Atto said: “In terms of partnership with the state, we have a lot of areas to benefit from each other. The first benefit is that whatever they are producing here, we are ready to partner them and we will off-take some of them for our own multiplication so that it can be circulated around the country.”
For Chief Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom state and Minority Leader in the Senate, sheer technological sophistication of the rice seedlings plant signposts the vision of a great leader.
Akpabio said: “This seeds multiplication plant is the first in Sub-Saharan Africa and with a very high yield producing seedlings, fully vitaminized that when cultivated, will not only feed the people of Cross River State and Akwa Ibom, but the whole of Nigeria. I am really amazed and I say bravo to Governor Ayade.”
Meanwhile, a group of farmers in the state have been falling over themselves to identify with the state government in order to be the first to benefit from the rice plant.
Our correspondent spoke to a farmer in Akpabuyo, who is coordinating farmers in that local government area, Asuquo Nyong and he said rather than wait for the plant to kick-start production and let off its long grain produce to people outside the state, farmers in the state were willing to follow up progress of work to its conclusion.
Nyong said; “We are looking forward to being the beneficiaries of the special variety of this rice. We have brought farmers from other parts of the country to come and assess this plant and what it can produce and they are willing to do everything to benefit from it. We are not going to sleep and allow this opportunity to pass us by.”
He said apart from accessing the seedlings, the finishing product from the Ogoja mill would also be bought and packaged for both national and international consumption. According to him, the state would witness a revolution in the agricultural sector, especially in rice production in no distant time because of the activities at the plant.
“Don’t forget that apart the seedlings, there is the value chain aspect of it and we in the agricultural sector will liaise with the plant management to explore other areas of usage. Believe me, this rice plant is the best thing that has happened to our state in particular and the country in general,” Nyong posited.
There is no doubt that the current struggle by the Federal Government to keep smugglers of rice out of market can only be made easier with the production of best quality rice in the country, comparable not only to the Thai rice, but the Basmati rice, the Chinese Black rice, Jasmine rice, Paella rice, Risotto rice and the Sushi rice of this world which seems to be the intention behind Ayade’s innovative rice plant.
Kerang Hills: Plateau’s volcanoes home of giants gold
The plains stretch as far as the eyes can see; the horizon is sleepy and is obscured by massive cones of varying colours – some lush green and others, earthly brown jutting out into the skies and standing imposingly like enormous yam heaps on a village farm.
These beautiful volcanic mountains are the source of cool, enchanting springs, which supply water to the popular spring water company (SWAN).
The district head Da Philemon Mutang, told the visiting journalist that the major language of the people around the mountain is Mwaghavul which is derived from the words “Mwa-avul” or “Mun-vul” literally meaning “we are two’ or ‘always in pairs’.
The main occupation of the Mwaghavul people is farming. They cultivate crops like maize, potatoes, beans, cocoyam, millet and acha. The district head also spoke passionately about a festival they observe April every year known as ‘Bwanzuhum,’which marks the end of every other festival in the land. The volcanic hills are of great antiquity to the people. The significance of the hills have been captured and expressed in their folklores, myths and legends. The legend of the people of Kerang says that the area around the volcanoes was once inhabited by a race of giant people who were wealthy and had lots of gold.
Speaking to this reporter, Da Mutang said these giants and their possessions were however all destroyed by large fires from the volcanic hills. This legend could probably be referring to some eruption from the volcanoes.
Another legend about the volcanic hills states that the one at Kerang, which was a female, occasionally intermarried with the one at Ampang West, which has a crater lake and was considered the male. The marriage union was at a shallow pond in Mufil. (It lies between Kerang and Ampang West). After the marriage, the water which has a sparkling appearance, remained there for two to three months before the marriage was broken up and both husband and wife returned to their original place with the pond drying up. The marriage, however, would be renewed after about one or two years depending on the mood of the female volcanic hill.
The Kerang volcano was also said to have a big hole that the chiefs of Kerang were said to have used to hide their soldiers during fierce battles with their enemies.
Apart from the tourist attraction of the volcanoes and the crater lake of Pidong in Ampang, the hills have natural springs which have been the source of drinking water for the people of the area.
Recently, the Spring Water of Nigeria (SWAN) has been harnessing the springs at Kerang for commercial purposes. Besides, the rich volcanic soil supports the cultivation of various types of crops.
Ramadan: Coping with high food prices
As Ramadan, the annual Islamic fasting season, begins, prices of various food items have increased in Abuja environs and other states.
A recent News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey of markets in the Garki, Bwari, Wuse neighbourhoods of Abuja as well as in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, revealed between a five to 10 per cent rise in the prices of foodstuffs.
For instance, in the markets of the four areas, the prices of different brands of a 20-litre gallon of vegetable oil have increased from N12,300, N10, 480, N9, 700 to N14, 200, N11, 100 and N9, 900 respectively.
Similarly, a 25-litre can of palm oil, which formerly cost N9, 000, now sold for N10, 500 but traders attributed the increase in palm oil price to the onset of the rainy season.
NAN observed that the price of tomato has spiralled, as a big basket of tomato now attracted prices ranging from N15,000, N22,000, N25,000 to N30,000; up from its old price of N15, 000 and N12, 000 and N9, 000, depending on factors such the freshness and the species of the tomato.
The prices of a big basket of chilli pepper had fluctuated between N12, 000 and N15, 000, depending on bargaining power of the purchaser, while price of a big basket of the pepper variety known as tatashe had also increased from N13, 500 to N17, 000.
NAN gathered that barely two months ago, a polythene bag of white garrisold for N10, 000 but the price had now shot up to N14,000. The price of a mudu (measure) of garri had increased from N120 to N170, while that of a paint-rubber measure of the commodity had increased from N350 to N450.
The price of a 100kg. bag of white beans had risen from N30, 500 to N38, 000; the cost of a similar quantity of red beans had increased from N45,000 to N60,000, while a mudu of red beans now cost N470.
In respect of rice, the price of a 50kg. bag of rice ranged between N13, 000, N17, 000 and N22, 000 — depending on its brand — while the markets were fully stocked with the made-in-Nigeria varieties of rice.
Similarly, the prices of iced fish in some cold rooms in the Mararaba neighbourhood of Nasarawa State had increased considerably.
Before now, a carton of mackerel fish cost between N12,000 and N14,000 but the carton now cost N22, 000, while the price of a carton of croaker fish nowadays was N35, 000.
The market survey also indicated significant increases in the prices of other food items like water yam, yam, cocoa yam and potato but the price of sweet potato had somewhat remained stable.
Going from the general to the specifics, price of a set of five big tubers of yam, which formerly cost N2, 800, now sold for between N3, 500 and N4, 500.
The price of water yam species had also changed, as a set of five tubers of water yam now sold for N2, 500, as against its former price of N2,000.
A bag of Irish potato, which used to sell for N7, 000, now attracted prices ranging between N10, 000 and N10, 500.
NAN also discovered that the prices of frozen food items and poultry products, including eggs, fish, turkey and lobster, were on the increase.
Eggs were now sold in the markets at N1,000 or N1,100 per crate, compared to the previous price of N800 or N900 per crate.
A jute bag of dried onions, which previously sold for prices between N9, 800 and N11, 000, now cost between N18, 000 and N22, 000; while a jute bag of fresh onions now fetched N15, 200, as against its former price of N9,000.
NAN, however, noticed that the prices of other consumables like beverages, sugar, milk, bread and noodles have remained stable in the last two months.
Mrs. Imoyosola Ajao, a civil servant, nonetheless, told NAN that she had resorted to buying only essential commodities, instead of going for all the things she needed because of the high cost of most items.
She said that a mudu (measuring can) of corn flour, which cost N245 a couple of weeks ago, now sold for N270, while a mudu of cassava flour now cost N175, up from its N140 price a couple of weeks ago.
“How can people survive now? What do we eat now? This is because the mixture of corn flour and cassava flour is a common staple food for most people.
“Now that the blended flour is getting out of the reach of the common man, what is the alternative? Semolina, wheat flour and yam flour are not within our reach. What then should we eat?’’ she quipped.
Ajao bemoaned the continuous increase in the prices of food items in the market, saying that government ought to initiate some price-control strategies to stem impulsive increases in food prices.
Nevertheless, some traders in the markets have attributed the price increases to seasonal factors, forced migration of farmers due to the current security challenges facing certain parts of the country and increase in transportation costs.
They also blamed the increase on factors such as flood, high cost of transportation, high interest rates of loans, ageing farmers and rainfall patterns, among others.
The traders stressed that price increases had caused some setbacks for them, saying that there had been a remarkable fall in patronage.
One of the traders, Mrs Eunice Nwachukwu, said that the fall in customers’ patronage had affected the economic wellbeing of the traders, adding that some of them who got bank loans for their businesses had not been able to pay back the loans.
She said that most of the shops in the markets were owned by government officials who rented them out to traders at high rates, thereby forcing the traders to jack up the prices of their wares.
Another trader, Madam Alima Agbaje, said that in recent times, most customers could not engage in bulk purchase of food items, adding that they instead make piecemeal purchases because of the prevalent cash squeeze.
She said that the development had affected sales in most markets, while the drop in sales had forced several traders to abandon their shops, thereby creating chances for the remaining traders to increase the prices of their wares arbitrarily.
However, Mrs Agnes Igiewe, a plantain seller, trader blamed the increase in the prices of food items on factors such as the unwholesome practices of middlemen, dealers and shop owners.
She stressed that the problem was compounded by the harmful habits of middlemen who impulsively jacked up the prices of food items arbitrarily.
“From Edo State to Abuja, a truckload of plantain usually costs N250,000, but the middlemen will make sure you pay extra costs before the plantain is moved from the farm.
“Nobody is checking the activities of the middlemen and they dictate food prices; their pronouncements on the prices are final and binding.
“All the extraneous costs would be added to the selling price of the foodstuffs in order for you to make some profit,’’ she said.
Mr Ralph Abakuku, a stock fish seller, also attributed the increase in the prices of food items to the prevalent cash flow problems in the country, which had forced many traders to obtain bank loans without consideration for the high interest rates of the loans.
Another farmer, Malam Abdullahi Danbaba, blamed the current increase in food prices on unstable rainfall patterns and erratic electricity supply.
He said most of the food crops were cultivated via irrigation farming, adding the unstable electricity supply had forced most irrigation farmers to rely solely on the use of petrol to operate their equipment.
He said that the farmers then had no other option than to increase the prices of their crops to enable them to break even.
In the main market of Bwari, a satellite town in the FCT, most of the traders attributed the high prices of food items to Ramadan.
They said that some traders often review food prices up in the lead-up to the fasting period.
“Some foodstuff sellers know that consumers, particularly Muslims, often buy and store food items during the period; they, therefore, see it as opportunity to increase food prices and make more profits,’’ said Alhaji Muktar Hassan, a beans merchant.
“It is so unfortunate that the market leaders are aware of such unscrupulous activities; yet they failed to stop such practice and those who engage in it,’’ he added.
All the same, Mr Silas Alejolowo, an agriculturist, told NAN that prices of food would continue to rise if the country’s farmers continued to face myriad challenges.
He also noted that most youths in the country were not interested in taking up farming, while inadequate efforts were also being made to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture.
He said that this was as a major challenge facing efforts to boost Nigeria’s food security, adding that the challenge was reinforced by the fact that agriculture in the country was labour-intensive and still relied on the use of crude tools.
He said that the prevalent use of primitive farm implements had made Nigerian farmers less efficient and less productive, while creating perceptible threats to food security and stability of food prices.
National news19 hours ago
2019: Isiaka resigns from PDP, says party’s crisis intractable
Metro and Crime17 hours ago
Court dissolves 18-year-old marriage over abandonment
National news17 hours ago
BREAKING: Saraki, Adewole, Ngige in closed-door meeting over JOHESU strike
Metro and Crime17 hours ago
8 men in court for allegedly causing public nuisance
News17 hours ago
UN to honour 3 fallen Nigerian peacekeepers
News Around Nigeria17 hours ago
Navy seizes N66m illegally refined diesel, arrests 23 suspects
National news17 hours ago
Police recover Gombe assembly’s Mace
News Around Nigeria17 hours ago
Imo APC: Hold Okorocha responsible for breakdown of law and order