NIGERIAS BRACE FOR TOUGH TIMES AS FOOD PRICE SHOOT UP - TMnews Magazine Online

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NIGERIAS BRACE FOR TOUGH TIMES AS FOOD PRICE SHOOT UP

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With coronavirus ravaging the country and governments announcing closure of markets and malls, prices of foodstuffs and other essential items have begun to shoot up across the country.
And while many Nigerians are reeling under the yoke of tough economic times and unemployment, state governments have started to announce salary cuts for civil and public servants.
Says Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Lai Mohammed: “We are determined to be more aggressive in enforcing the measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.”  The minister said in the capital Abuja on Thursday, adding “time is running out. We have a short window within which to stop this pandemic or face an explosion in terms of the cases. We cannot afford to be complacent.”
According to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as of 4 pm on Saturday, 89 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Nigeria. The cases were spread across Lagos, Abuja, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Rivers and Benue.
Most states have either closed their borders to inter-state travellers or announced plans to do so. In many states, markets, churches, mosques, schools, civil service and malls have been shut down. Whereas one week ago, states were limiting contacts to 50 persons, by the middle of last week, contacts had mostly been limited to 20 persons by many of the state governments while curfew has been imposed in Kaduna State.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) during the week suspended foreign exchange sales to bureau de change mainly because the Federal Government had fully closed land and air boarders while limiting cargo entry to essential good, including petroleum products, food items and pharmaceutical products.
Even in states allow those essential goods to be transported across their boarders despite suspending interstate travels.
According to feelers from many state and federal governments, the entire country is very close to a total lockdown where citizens will only be allowed out of their homes to purchase essential items.
At least two states of Adamawa and Gombe have publicly announced that they were cutting salaries to pre-N30,000 era and at a time when supplies were drying up and prices are escalating in the market.
For instance, within the last week, the price of a big bowl of garri moved from N3,000 to N5,500.
Although some states and cities like Lagos and FCT have announced plans to commence distribution of basic food items to help citizens cushion some of the effects of lockdown, the way such items would be distributed were still to be worked out.
A lot of people across the country have resorted to panic buying as they rushed to stock up on food and other essentials to beat lockdown deadlines in the various states.
However, with most Nigerians falling into the informal category of the economy, there are fears that the following weeks and probably months will be difficult.
Answering questions during a press conference in Abuja early in the week, Mohamed acknowledged that government was considering the informal nature of the economy in taking decisions on the lockdown. In some organised economies like China, Europe and America, governments were distributing food items and money to citizens through various means. Data is however, a bid deal in Nigeria. Elsewhere, government was suspending taxes and mortgage payments so as to ease lockdown effects.

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