Hard times as commodity prices hit rooftop
As Muslim faithful end this year’s Ramadan today, many will look forward to a bleak Eid-el-Fitr celebration holding tomorrow and Wednesday. The Federal Government had last week Thursday announced tomorow and Wednesday as public holidays to mark the Muslim festival. This year’s Ramadan was heralded by a period of rising cost of goods, prompted by fluctuating foreign exchange and petrol scarcity.
The prices of some commodities like imported rice, maize and garri, is still on the increase. According to a recent commodity index report provided by Novus Agro Nigeria Ltd, an agro-allied company in Lagos, the increase in the prices of commodities were due to a rise in the exchange rate of the dollar, the fuel price increase and insufficient rain.
Miss Avadoo Gaadi, an enumeration specialist with Novus Agro, in the report stated that traders were selling off the old stock of commodities at higher prices, because the demand for the available stock was high.
“Basically, the present commodity prices have been influenced by some factors such as the exchange rate of the dollar and logistics constraints caused by the fuel scarcity. Bringing in imported rice and the cost of transportation from the ports to the markets have also contributed to the increase in the prices of a lot of commodity prices in the market,” she noted.
Presently, the price of a 50kg bag of imported rice now sells for N17,000, whereas it was sold for N14,500 at the beginning of last month. A 100kg bag of maize also increased from N9,000 two weeks ago to N10,500 at the market. The 60kg bag of garri presently selling at the market for N14,000 was sold for N11,450 early last month.
According to the president of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Remi Bello, the unfolding oil price scenario and the consequent exchange rate depreciation that dominated the first quarter of 2016, has put pressure on production and operating costs across all the sectors of the economy.
An Islamic cleric based in Agege area of Lagos State, Alhaji Ibrahim Awoyaya, at the weekend told The Guardian many people survived a harrowing fasting period and the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations would also be low-key to reflect the present state of the economy.
“It is a trying period for most Nigerians across the country. The reflection of the condition of many Nigerians is a dire one, as low economic activity, unpaid salaries, and mass retrenchment by private organisations have contributed to make life difficult for the masses. As a result, there would be low-key celebrations in most parts of the country,” he said.
To alleviate the burden of some Muslims in Lagos, the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Foundation on Saturday held its annual Ramadan Outreach at the Onikan Stadium. The event, which was in its second year, was organised to fete the masses and commemorate this year’s Eid-el-Fitri celebrations.
Huge number of people from various backgrounds, religions, tribes, as well as members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) thronged the venue as early as 5am. Even the disabled and the aged were not left out, as they all turned up in anticipation to receive the largesse from the APC national leader.
Each gift pack was said to have included a package of rice, salt, noodles and sugar, as well as a sum of N1,500 contained in an envelope, which were given to each person. Two elderly women, however, lost their lives in a stampede that took place while the Ramadan gifts were being distributed on behalf of the former Lagos State governor.
The Guardian learnt that a middle-aged man fainted in the commotion, while several others were injured during the distribution by the Iyaloja General of Nigeria and Tinubu’s daughter, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo.
The injured were rushed to the Marina General Hospital, while corpses of the deceased women, who were said to be in their sixties, were deposited at the hospital’s morgue. The Lagos State Police Command though said no deaths were recorded from the stampede.