The House of Representatives has set up a special committee to investigate the high cost of food items and commodities in the country.

The committee, which was set up on Wednesday, is to be chaired by the Deputy Leader of the House, Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo).

The setting of the committee followed the adoption of a motion moved by Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun).

Mandates

The mandates of the committee are as follows; “To launch an investigative hearing with all critical stakeholders in the country and carry out the root cause analysis on the rising cost of living.

“Initiate policies needed for addressing the skyrocketing prices of goods and services in the country.

“Engagement with Captain of Industries, Trade Unions Associations, Board of Directors, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and others promoters in the economic sectors, on ways for a drastic reduction in prices of goods and services in the country.

“Any other strategies that can mitigate the effect of the current inflation in the country.”

Alarming rise in food prices

Newsmen had reported the continuous fall in the country’s inflation figure, but despite the data, prices of food commodities continue to rise.

Nigeria’s inflation slowed in August for a fifth straight month to 17.01 per cent.

Moving the motion, Mr Isiaka said “prices of food items, commodities, goods and services have skyrocketed by as much as 100 per cent in many parts of Nigeria in the last one year.”

Onions, Peppers and Tomatoes on display at the market (PHOTO CREDIT: PREMIUM TIMES)

He blamed the situation on monetary policy and other fiscal policies of the government, including border closures, COVID-19 containment measures and insecurity.

Mr Isiaka said the inflation rate “poses the challenge for increased spending on housing, shelter, medicals, clothes, baby food and even cooking gas, because our nation’s local production still falls short of our local demand.”

He noted that if the situation is not properly managed, the situation would have a high impact on the cost of doing business and cost of living.

Debate

Ben Igbakpa said there is no need for investigation “since everyone knows what is causing the fast-rising prices of goods and services.”

“Out there, we seem to be putting up too many committees because this is a direct result of government policy. It is a failure of the government to attend to the people. And where you have not invested, you cannot control. And since we don’t have anything like price control, because the government has not given the right frame and environment for industry and production to thrive, I don’t think we have any business that we want to investigate,” Mr Igbakpa.

“What are we investigating? Every common man on the street knows the reason — when you are consuming but you are not producing; when you are importing but you are not exporting. I think what we should be looking at is to see how we can increase our internal production, to be self-sustained, even if we cannot export to other countries.

“So, I don’t see the need for any committee for any investigation. We all know. Let us tell the executive arm of government to provide the right frame for businesses to thrive, so that our people can produce and be self-sustainable.”

Nut Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi) said the ongoing increase is due to low productivity in the country, noting that income is subject to production.

“I believe that we all know that production aids economic development. So, we all know that. We should not pretend that we don’t know. But what this motion is trying to do is to know exactly what is wrong with the skyrocketing prices of goods and services, especially the agro products in the country,” he said.

“It is not that we don’t know there are problems with farmers; it is not that we are not aware that factories are not producing because of lack of electricity. We are aware of all these things. But there are some problems that, when the investigation is carried out, we are going to discover apart from all these that are known to all of us.”

The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), said the scope of motion is too broad.

To address this ‘broadness’, Munir Dan Agundi (APC, Kano), said the investigation will look into interventions of the government in the agriculture sector.

“This motion is very important. This government has done a lot of interventions in terms of interventions in the agricultural sector but the issue is that whether those interventions have gone to the right people or places is another thing that this motion will look at and see and bring out the anomaly.

“Also, we have COVID-19 (pandemic) which has added to the problem, not only in Nigeria but all over the world,” he said.

When the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila put the motion to question, it was unanimously adopted.

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