Reps’ bill seeks to compel FG to regulate food prices, others

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A proposed law to compel the Executive Arm of government to regulate prices of food and other items, in order to guarantee food security and lessen the economic hardship on majority of Nigerians, is underway in the House of Representatives.

The Bill seeking that regulation, as Exclusively obtained by VANGUARD, is entitled: “An Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Right to Food and Security in Nigeria”.

The Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno(APC-Borno), who is the sponsor of the instrument, seeks that Section 2(1)(a) Section 16 of the Principal Act (constitution) is altered by deleting in subsection 2(d) the words suitable and adequate food, appearing in lines 1-2”.

He seeks to amend the Act, by “inserting a new section 16(a)”, to read that “The State(Federal Government), shall direct its policy towards ensuring that: a means of production, conservation and distribution of food are upgraded and improved upon on a continuous basis.

“Strategies that guarantee food security of the nation in terms of availability, accessibility and affordability of food to the citizens are initiated, undertaken and implemented and adequate measures are provided to ensure that food security of the nation in terms of availability, accessibility and affordability of food to the citizens are initiated, undertaken and implemented, and adequate measures are provided to ensure that food security of the nation is not compromised by any individual, group or institution, while actions that enhance the sustainability of food security are promoted”.

The proposed law, states in section 33, that “Every person shall have a right to food, which shall be respected, protected and guaranteed by the State, and no one shall be deprived of food under any circumstances”

Earlier on Wednesday, the House while adopting a motion, resolved to investigate the “immediate and remote causes” of rising inflation and cost of food items in the country.

The legislators also resolved to set up a meeting with critical stakeholders in the country to address the frightening rise in prices of goods.

The resolutions also include engagement with captains of industries, Trade Union Associations, Board of Directors, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other promoters in the economic sector, on ways for drastic reduction in prices of goods and services in the country.

The House further noted that it’s opened to “any other strategies that can mitigate the effects of the current inflation in the country.”

These followed the adoption of a motion on matters of urgent public importance brought by Rep. Ibrahim Isiaka (APC-Ogun), calling attention to the “urgent need to investigate the skyrocketing prices of commodities, goods and services across the nation with a view to cushioning the impact on the citizens”.

Presenting the motion at plenary, the lawmaker stated that “Unfortunately, this is still the lowest decline Nigeria’s economy has experienced since 1983. What does this mean for the average Nigerian? Not too farfetched, because Life has become increasingly difficult for many Nigerians, especially the low-income earners, unemployed youth, other vulnerable people, those on fixed incomes such as the pensioners and others.”

“Quoting conspicuously from – Virginia Woolf. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well,” he said.

The lawmaker noted that “the Prices of food items, Commodities, Goods and Services have skyrocketed by as much as 100 per cent in many parts of Nigeria in the last one year attributed largely caused by monetary policy, border closures, COVID-19 containment measures, and insecurity, causing Nigeria’s inflation rate to rise geometric progression in August 2021.”

“Price Index in the past months has increased astronomically owing to many controllable and uncontrollable factors with inflation at a 48-month high, posing the challenge for increased spending on housing, shelter, medicals, clothes baby food and even cooking gas, because our nation’s local production still falls short of our local demand, minding the population, climate change, and hunger, a major future issue looms if, immediate remedial action is not taken care off soon, by this House.

“Cognizant of the World Bank’s report that, Nigeria’s economy contracted by -1.8% in 2020, lower than the -3.2% loss the organization had predicted at the beginning of the pandemic.

“All these problems bedevilling our economy, the House is spurred on a move to properly manage the situation before it spreads out of control owing to the impacts on the cost of living, the cost of doing business, and every other facet of the economy”, the motion stated.

It, therefore, prayed the House to mandate the leadership, to constitute a high powered Special Committee to carry out the investigation.

The Committee on Legislative Compliance was also mandated to ensure compliance.

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