The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), has expressed deep concerns over the indiscriminate rise in prices of essential commodities in Nigeria, saying the soaring costs of food items and other necessities have left Nigerians in a state of despair, struggling to provide for their families and faced with unaffordable basic necessities.
The national coordinator of CNG, Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, in a statement he issued yesterday, said despite the existence of the Consumer Protection Commission, which should safeguard the interests of Nigerians, its inaction has worsened the situation, fuelling frustration and anger among the citizens.
It said this inaction has aggravated the suffering faced by most Nigerians, while a privileged few continue to live in opulence, adding that it is disheartening to witness such a stark contrast between the elite and the suffering of the masses.
The CNG said the exorbitant hike in food prices in Nigeria is not a result of natural market forces, but rather the self-serving interests of unscrupulous elite. The coalition alleged that these elites have manipulated the forex market, caused scarcity of foreign exchange and subsequently drive-up the cost of imported essential food items.
It said the current forex racketeering and hikes in commodity prices can be attributed to officials from the previous administration who are seeking to conceal their ill-gotten wealth. It claimed that these individuals are converting their looted funds into foreign currencies, particularly dollars, as it is easier to hide large sums in foreign currency.
Additionally, the coalition said these officials are responsible for hoarding foreign currencies, creating an artificial scarcity that fuels the demand and subsequently increases the prices of essential commodities.
The CNG said it firmly believes that the individuals responsible for the current hardships faced by Nigerians are those who have historically received substantial unregulated allocations of foreign currencies from the government. “However, with the government now closing the doors on such practices, these individuals have resorted to manipulating commodity prices to maintain their profits,” it noted.
The group also alleged that influential business owners who control production and importation have contributed to the prevailing difficulties, adding that these individuals, often operating within monopolistic structures, have a significant influence on the availability and pricing of essential commodities. It said by controlling the supply chain, they can dictate prices and exploit the market to their advantage.
“In addition to these factors, the CNG finds it unacceptable for the government to complicate the situation further with multiple taxation. The Nigerian Customs Service, among other agencies, imposes excessive taxes and levies on businesses, hindering their growth and increasing the cost of goods. This burden is ultimately passed on to the consumers, exacerbating the already high prices. Moreover, the recent hikes in tariffs for utilities, such as electricity, only add to the financial strain faced by Nigerians,” the statement reads.
In light of the prevailing circumstances, the Coalition of Northern Groups called for swift and decisive action from the federal and state governments. “It is imperative that these manipulative practices are exposed and those responsible are held accountable. We demand that the government identifies, exposes, and prosecutes those individuals responsible for the current hardships imposed on its citizens,” it added.
It called for a national executive council meeting, bringing together representatives from the Central Bank of Nigeria, banking and financial institutions, bureau de change operators, and other stakeholders, adding that urgent action is needed to address the free float of the naira and other damaging policies that further impoverish the majority while enriching a few.