…as FG accuses saboteurs of escalating prices of foodstuffs
. Announces plans to release food items from National Food Reserves to boost availability
. Moves to work with major millers and commodity traders on easing food prices
President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, directed the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention to immediately intervene in the worsening food security crisis in the country and halt the unfortunate development.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who disclosed this to journalists at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday after the Committee’s meeting, however said there was no food shortage in the country.
Idris also said government had discovered an alleged sabotage in food pricing by some elements hiding behind Naira’s depreciation in the foreign exchange market to arbitrarily raise prices of foodstuffs.
The committee’s meeting followed recent protests in some parts of the country over recent high cost of food items, which has worsened general cost of living for most families throughout the country.
But in response to the rising public agitation over the situation, Chief of Staff to the President, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, convened the special committee’s meeting Tuesday evening, at the instance of President Tinubu.
The information Minister while disclosing some of the action plans of the committee to journalists, said government would be releasing food items from the National Food Reserves to boost food availability.
He also said Government will work with major millers and commodity traders on easing food prices.
The Minister said, “We just rounded off a meeting. It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians.
“What I will tell Nigerians is that the President has directed that government needs to step in to stem this tide. Government will not fold its arms and see the way Nigerians are suffering in terms of the availability of these food items.
“Now, some of these will involve unlocking the foods that are available in most of the storage facilities (National Food Reserve) around the country. You know that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has some food reserve. That is going to be made available to Nigerians.
“The government is also talking to major millers and major commodity traders, to also see what is available in their stores. To open it up, so that government will provide some intervention, discuss with them, provide some intervention to make this food available to Nigerians.
“What the government is noticing is that actually there is still food in this country. Some people are taking advantage of the situation, especially because of the high cost, the depreciation in the value of our currency that has led to the cost of these food items also going up.
“So all these issues were discussed, the Governor of Central Bank was here, the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy is in that meeting and of course, the Chief of Staff and the National Security Adviser, because it also has some national security implications.
“So all these have been discussed and like I said, this conversation or discussion is going to continue.”
Idris also assured that the government would continue to work and take steps to ameliorate the current situation until it is finally addressed.
The Minister added, “This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow. The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what has happened in Minna yesterday, and therefore government is taking some action to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of the availability of food on the table.
“Of course, this meeting is not by itself exhaustive. It’s just like I said, the beginning. It is going to continue tomorrow and the day after.
“So I want to plead with you to understand with the government. By the time these meetings are concluded, we’ll be able to issue a definite statement on what the position of government is in this regard. But all I can say is that discussions are ongoing, and very soon a solution is in sight for Nigerians.”
On whether there were any immediate actions to follow the meeting, Idris said, “Some of them are dependent on the follow-up meeting on all this hardship. The government is stepping in a big way to ensure that Nigerians have succour going forward”.