Border closure: Nigerians lament as food prices soar

Nigerians are beginning to reel under rising food and commodity prices which have sky rocketed in the last two weeks in the wake of the Nigeria-Benin Republic border closure at Seme by the Nigerian authorities over alleged smuggling activities along that corridor.

The commodities mostly affected by the general price increase are rice, frozen meat, tomatoes and other staple food which are almost beyond the reach of the average Nigerian household. Some Nigerians who spoke to National Daily  lamented that the border closure had unleashed great hardship on them and their businesses.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president in August said he ordered the closure of the border to curb the massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor.

Specifically, a 50 kilogramme bag of rice erstwhile sold between N14,000 and N15, 000 now costs as high as N19,000 to N22,000. The price difference, when calculated, shows a price hike of more than 35 percent.

According to customers at the Lagos mile 12 market, a basket of tomatoes now costs between N7,000 and N8,000 as against previous value of N4,000 to N5,000.

Cold rooms surveyed across Epe and Ibeju Lekki areas of Lagos state which stock frozen fish and chicken for sale revealed that frozen chickens were unavailable when asked and for those who had, the price had risen by over 50 percent.

A carton of chicken which was sold between N8,000 and N8’500 is now being priced at between N17,000 and N19,000, our correspondent learnt. The price of a carton of frozen croaker fish had also risen to N22,000 from N10,000- N11,000 sold two weeks ago.

Retail sellers said, since the border closure, supply has not been forthcoming and those who had in stock have to increase their prices so as to break even.

In order to show support for the government’s decision to close the country’s border, rice processors in Nigeria said they have pegged the retail price of locally produced rice at not more than N15,000.

Mohammed Abubarkar Maifata, national chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), said the association will sanction any rice processor (Millers) who sells above the stipulated price.

The RIPAN chairman stated that the ex-factory price of per-boiled rice, which Nigerians consume has been pegged at between N13,300 and N14,000 while the final retail price has been marked off at N15,000.

But sellers of the product expressed worry over scarcity of the product hence the reason for the price increase.