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Increased cost of transportation, that is why food prices soar – VP Osinbajo

The National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, examined the trend of food prices and concluded that prices are rising because of COVID-19, the #EndSARS and banditry in parts of the country.

It observed that other factors include farmers/herders clashes and increased cost of transportation.

This followed a presentation made to NEC by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari.

The council, therefore, stressed the need for urgent remedial measures.

A statement issued by the Vice President’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, on Thursday evening said:

“Council received the presentation on the above subject matter with current food price situation analysis showing that: Food prices have changed between September and November involving commodities in Lagos and a few randomly selected states.

“The Hike in prices is due to the following factors; Delay in going out to farm, which translates to delay in harvesting courtesy of COVID-19 pandemic

“EndSARS protest stalled food transportation and delivery and in some instances destroyed food stores.

“Banditry in the northwest effectively preventing farmers from harvesting fields cultivated.

“Farmers/herders conflict destroyed farm produce in some states and increased cost of transportation.”

NEC, therefore, resolved that States and the Federal Government should adopt urgent measures including social protection schemes to deal with the situation.

The Federal Government was also enjoined to pursue the implementation of its Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP) – Agric plan and others to positively improve the situation in the sector.

The ad-hoc committee to engage with Nigerian youth and other critical stakeholders in addressing the deeper roots of the #EndSARs protests was presented to NEC.

Headed by Osinbajo, members of the committee are governors drawn from the 6 geopolitical zones in the country.

They are, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor representing northwest; Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State Governor representing northeast; Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger State Governor representing northcentral; Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State Governor representing southwest; Engr. Dave Umahi, Ebonyi State Governor representing southeast; and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor representing South-South.

The statement affirmed that the committee is to engage the youth, religious organisation, civil society, security agencies regarding the issues and recommend effective solutions towards strengthening national unity among others.

Osinbajo presented an update to the council saying that the committee resolved that there should be two broad levels of engagement, one with state and the second with zonal levels.

According to the statement, all governors should commence engagement within a week, guidelines of engagement process should be developed; engagement to include meetings with the youths and community leaders etc.

It also said the focus should be on young people, adding, engagement process to be flexible taking into consideration the peculiarities of individual states, the Vice President’s office to develop and forward engagement guidelines; zonal engagement to commence on November 14.

The NEC said zonal meetings are to be attended by committee members including the governors while governors are to identify the various groups to be invited to the meetings

Council resolved that the planned zonal engagements should proceed with the focus on Youths and Civil Society Organisations dealing especially with issues or jobs, and employment.

Similarly, the States level interactions should proceed in places where this has not been reported, the council advised.

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