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Food prices continue to soar in Abuja, environs

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Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital city is currently experiencing a surge in the price of basic food commodities. Apart from the biting effects of the subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol, which has skyrocketed transportation costs all over the country, “eating food” now appears a luxury in some part of the FCT.
Although there has been an increase in the prices of almost every other good and service in the country for some time now, the fuel crisis has worsened the situation despite promises by the government to put an end to the scarcity.
Going through some markets in Abuja show that there has been an increase in the prices of basic commodities. The price surge affects staple foods like rice, beans, garri, and yam amongst others.
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“The fuel scarcity is affecting me seriously. Before now, I used to pay N1000 to convey these goods from my house to this place, but now, I am paying between N1800 to N2000 just to convey them down here,” Victoria Ene, a roadside food vendor at Wuse, Abuja, said.
Shortly after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inauguration, the crisis started,immediately after the pronouncement, marketers began to reduce the amount of fuel they sold. This continued even after the government announced a reversal of the plan.
The scarcity became worse when the federal government said its agents had imported substandard fuel.
Transport fares have since increased across the country. In Abuja, from Kubwa to Berger junction or Wuse market is now N700 as against the previous price of N350. From Lugbe to Secretariat is now N700 as against N300.
Traders have passed the increased fares to customers and their products have therefore become more expensive.
A container of yellow garri that was N350 in 2023 is now N700 and white garri now goes for N550 against its previous price of N300. Similarly, five tubers of yam now cost N6000 from N2500, while a mudu of rice that was N900 before, now goes for N1800.
Also, one litre of palm oil that was N700 is now N1200, 25kg of groundnut oil is now N45,000 from N23,000 and a crate of eggs is now N2300 from N1200.
Lamentation by traders
According to Madam Joy, a yam seller in Kubwa, Abuja, the increase in the price of yam is as a result of insecurity and the current fuel scarcity in the country.
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“Yam is expensive now; the farmers-herders fight and the current fuel scarcity situation is affecting the price of yam. Where we normally buy yam in Niger State, there is a fight going on there, so getting products from there is difficult. Even the first set of yams we sent, they are inside a bush now in Niger State, the driver and passengers ran and left the car with yam inside in the bush because of the fight,” madam Joy  said.
“So these ones I am selling, I bought them from another market, not directly from the farmers, so they are a bit expensive now. Also, the transport fare to bring them down here is high now. For instance, these small ones are N3500 for 5 tubers, initially, we used to sell that size N1500.”
Ezeji Victoria, a street food vendor, said the changes in the price of food items and transport fare have affected how she sells food now
“Initially, I used to sell a plate of food for N250, but now it is N700 and N1000 depending on the number of meat I add for you,” she said.
“25kg of groundnut oil that I use to buy N22,000 or N23,000 before, now it is N43,000, 5kg of semolina before was N5000 or N4500, but now it is N7700 and N6000 in the market, even 25kg of palm oil I use to buy N19,000 before is now is N40,000.
Another trader at the Arab Road market, described how fuel scarcity has also affected her small business.
“I was selling a mudu of palm fruit at N500 before, but now, it is N600 due to an increase in the transport fare. For instance, this morning I paid N700 instead of N300 to convey my market goods from Gwa Gwa market to the Arab market here, so with that, I cannot come and sell the items at their previous price, I won’t make any gain if I do so,” Mrs Ephraim said.
The checks also confirmed that there is at least a 50 to 60 per cent food price increase in some restaurants in the city. A plate of food that was sold at N500 initially now goes for N800 at some restaurants in Wuse, Area 1 and Apo Axis.
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According to Sam Amadi, a Director at the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, the increase in the fuel price will definitely have an adverse effect on the economy considering the existing high rate of inflation in the country.
“The increase in fuel and electricity prices will adversely affect the economy by increasing general inflation. Already at more than 15%, inflation is high. The recent increases will further increase inflation which will worsen hunger and starvation in the country and reduce mortality and social-economic wellbeing,” Mr Amadi said.
“Already, the world bank estimates that about 13 million Nigerians became poor because of COVID-19 and the policy to contain it. This new wave of Inflation will drag more people into poverty. It will also affect household income for most Nigerians, constrain businesses and commercial activities and therefore result in more unemployment. The end result will be an increase in generalised insecurity,” he added.

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