It is not a new thing for traders to hoard and hike prices of goods during this period. Although the people of Kano always pleaded with traders to be considerate and sermons were preached in various mosques to this effect, the practice continued.
Expectedly, traders in the state took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to hoard goods and inflate prices of food and other essential commodities to an alarming rate. The situation worsened, to the extent that prices of commodities increased to over 200 per cent within few days. And there was a steady increase on a daily basis.
As a result of the steady hike in prices of goods, the general public became restless because things became highly unaffordable to average families. People of the state called on the concerned authorities to come to their aid, especially as the promised palliatives were taking eternity to arrive.
Responding to the outcry of the people, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje directed the state anti-graft commission to deal with the situation appropriately. Acting on the governors directive, the Public Complaints and Anti Corruption Commission in the state, headed by Muhuyi Magaji Rimin Gado, a lawyer, mapped out modalities to address the issue of price hike.
Upon commencement of operations, the commission received a series of complaints on unnecessary hike of commodity prices by traders in the state. Subsequently, they set strategies to find out the causes of the situation and how to resolve it.
To solve the problem, according to a source closer to the commission, they acted on provision 11(2), (3), (4) of the State Public Health Regulations, 2020.
On its first day of operation, the commission successfully sealed many warehouses where essential commodities were hoarded. It was also gathered that 19,500 bags of flour, 5,120 bags of sugar, 79,645 cartons of spaghetti and 37, 000 cartons of macaroni were discovered in those warehouses.
Subsequently, according to Gado, the state government held a series of meetings with the leadership of traders associations in the state, with the aim of coming up with a moderate price control.
During the series of meetings we had with the leadership of these businessmen in Kano, we reached an agreement to peg the prices of some basic commodities to what we believed was affordable. For instance, sugar was pegged at N16,000 per 50kg bag. We also reached an accord on how to make commodities available to smaller markets across the state, to ensure availability and avoid artificial scarcity, Gado said.
He also said the commission met with the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Kano chapter, to resolve negative consequences of hoarding, especially during the period of COVID-19 lockdown and Ramadan fasting. According to him, an agreement was signed, that each 50kg of processed rice would be supplied and the retail price should not exceed N16, 000 per bag.
It was also gathered that before the commissions intervention, the price of made in Nigeria rice went up to N23, 000 in some major markets in the state.
Similarly, the commission also succeeded in ensuring that the Association of Table Water Producers of Nigeria reduced the price of sachet water from N120 per bag to N80.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the intervention of the Kano State Government stabilised prices of commodities during the Ramadan fasting period and COVID-19 lockdown.
A resident of Hotoro Quarters in Nassarawa Local Government Area of the state, Malam Amadi Danyaro Mubarak, said that before governments intervention, people were subjected to great hardship without any justification, as traders determined the prices of their goods without human feeling.
For many years, traders in this state have been determining the prices of commodities, but with COVID-19 lockdown, this years situation was different as they seized the situation to subject people to unwarranted hardship. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the traders, the state government was able to determine prices of rice and sugar, otherwise we would have been in a pitiful scenario by now.
Another resident, Hajiya Shemau Ussaini, said that within the last few weeks, Kano people had a very rough time with prices of commodities. She commended the state government for coming to their rescue, adding that although the action is not a proper price control mechanism, they have done a wonderful job, otherwise the state would have experienced the worst inflation ever.