The Executive Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has responded to the advisory of some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Kwara State on the need to monitor and control the price of commodities and services in the State. In the solicited advisory letter submitted to the Governor on 1st May, 2020, the CSOs advised the Governor on the need to stabilise the price of goods and services within reasonable limit.
The CSOs, in the letter, said: “One of the situations that make life unbearable for citizens is the habitual and unchecked hike in the prices of commodities. As a result of the border closure, wholesalers, retailers and service providers will expectedly take such undue advantage to mischievously enrich themselves at the detriment of the consumers. As a government that has the responsibility to ensure that citizens continue to live decently and comfortably within the limit of their legitimate income, we are advising that the State Ministry of Enterprise and other relevant institutions (in collaboration with the security agencies) should be on top of the situation to stabilise the price of goods and services within a reasonable limit. Our member CSOs will be ready to assist the KWSG in the gathering of information, feedback mechanisms and awareness”
Consequently, the Governor organized a Zoom virtual meeting with the representatives of ENetSuD and other selected CSOs in the State between 9:00 pm – 10:45 pm on Monday 11th May 2020 to give his feedback on the advisory letter and further engage CSOs on COVID-19 and other issues affecting the state. He agreed with the CSOs that the control of the price of commodities and services is truly important. He, however, explained why the idea is difficult for state governments to implement at the moment.
“There are some issues which are beyond our control, like the issue of price control. Nigeria is a capitalist market economy. It will be extremely difficult to control prices at the markets, it will only create a secondary black market for people to operate. We know how NNPC has been battling with the price of petrol for years where black markets are created. It will be difficult for state government to control prices. The Federal Government has the tools to control prices like they control inflation and exchange rate, better than what a state government can do”, the Governor said.
The Governor continued “On that, yes, we feel and do agree that there should be a price control. Let me give you examples, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that used to go between 200 and 500 naira is going for between 10,000 -20,000 naira now for a piece and you must use it only once. Ventilators used to go for 5-6 million, they now go for between 20 – 30 million now”.
He concluded that “We have discussed it at the Governor’s forum that there should be a price control and mechanism that will forestall inflation, especially basic commodities and foods. But, we are not shutting the doors on that. We are still going to look for ways in which to mitigate the effect, especially getting food directly from the farmers to the markets”.