President Bola Tinubu has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, and other essential commodities from strategic reserves to alleviate the escalating food prices gripping the nation.
The directive was announced by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, following a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention held at the State House in Abuja on Thursday.
Idris disclosed that the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria has pledged to contribute 60,000 metric tons of rice to the market, bolstering efforts to enhance food accessibility for Nigerians.
“The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release about 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, garri, and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42,000 metric tons immediately,” he told reporters.
“The second one is that we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria. Those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.
“They’ve told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. They will make that available to Nigerians; to bring out to the market to make food available.”
He also said there is an option of importing these grains “if it becomes absolutely necessary, as an interim measure”.
The announcement coincides on same day that the Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas’s appeal to Nigerians to endure the economic strains, empathizing with their plight amid surging living costs.
The Speaker adds to the growing list of government officials who have repeatedly urged Nigerians to be patient over the reforms which Tinubu says will bring in more foreign investment to Africa’s largest economy.
But the short-term impact is hitting Nigerians hard: Inflation was at 28.92 percent in December, with food costs at 33.93 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The swift depreciation of the naira against the US dollar shows the economic turbulence, with the local currency plummeting from 450 to 1,400 against the greenback following the government’s transition from a multi-tier exchange rate system to a liberalized currency regime.