The deputy president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo has revealed that rice, the staple food of most Nigerians will remain expensive for the foreseeable future.
Osinbajo made this revelation when a Nigerian citizen challenged him on the soaring price of the staple food in the country while he was on an unscheduled visit to Mpape mechanic village in Abuja yesterday.
The prices of staple foods and everyday consumables have continued to soar high recent times in Nigeria, and in the midst of dwindling price of crude oil and the ever increasing exchange rate. With so many factors working together, the Nigerian economy has pronged into recession.
Although, government representatives have envisioned that Nigeria would be lifted off recession in the New Year 2017, economic analysts have said there is no light in the horizon yet.
Deputy President Yemi Osinbajo has probably buttressed the stand of the analysts and he has said the price of rice will continue to remain the way it is until the country reaches self-sufficiency with rice production.
At the unscheduled visit of the deputy president to the Mpape area of Abuja, the Nigerian whose name could not be confirmed as at the time of filing this report, queried the deputy president saying, “With the way things are going, we are suffering. We don’t really know. We thought that as you people are coming in, we are going to rejoice. But now, we are suffering”.
“How can we buy a bag of rice for 19,000 or 18,000 naiar?” the young man who might be in his late twenties queried.
“We cannot afford that; and there is no work we do here. So, the thing is paining us,” he added.
In response, the deputy to President Muhammadu Buhari flanked by the Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, said, “Let me tell you first about this rice. You see, the thing about government is that, government is a people, flesh and blood like you and I that run the government and we must run it with sense”.
“Look at this rice; in Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano; all those places, there are farmers. Many of them or none never had any work because all the rice was imported from China, Thailand, India, everywhere.
“Many of the rice are old, nine years, ten years, but they bring them here, and they are cheap because they are all imported, but our farmers have not work.
“Now, we said, we must provide work for Nigerians; Nigerians must farm. They must mill the rice, distribute the rice, locally. That is what we are trying to do now; so, hundreds of thousands of farmers in all the places where they are farming rice, millet, sorghum in Nigeria, they are producing rice now,” the deputy president added.
Osinbajo at this point has to plead with the visibly irritated young man and the crowd he was addressing to calm down for him to conclude his rice speech.
He continued that although the country is not producing enough rice yet, he stressed the price of rice will remain quite expensive at the interim because that is the only way the nation can make progress.
“It will be expensive first, it cannot be cheap immediately. It will first be expensive. When it is expensive, there will be some suffering, but that is the only way by which we can make progress.
“We can’t make progress any other way,” the deputy president concluded.