The Akwa Ibom State government has ordered traders to immediately reduce the cost of foodstuff in the market across the state.
Idorenyin Raphael, the Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Traders’ Matters, issued the order on Monday through a letter he wrote to the various market unions.
Mr. Raphael, in the letter, threatened that the state government would dissolve the leadership of any union that does not comply with the order within 31 days.
He said the unions were taking undue advantage of the poor economic situation in the country to inflate prices of foodstuffs, thereby causing unnecessary hardship among the people.
The governor’s aide later appeared on a radio programme on Wednesday to explain how the unions were allegedly responsible for the high prices of foodstuffs in the markets.
“Garri is selling between N30,000 and N22,000 per bag in the state, but if you go outside Akwa Ibom garri it is sold between N18, 000 and N17, 000…. The union doesn’t allow people who are not their members to sell garri in bags in the market,” Mr. Raphael said on the radio programme.
“If you are not their member and you bring in bags of garri into the market, they will seize them from you.
“If you look at it, there are no Customs duties on garri, and garri is not purchased with dollars, so it is the union that is causing the price increase.
“We will not continue to fold our hands and watch them do this; the unions must give traders the free hand to sell their goods.
“Another example is the crayfish. If you travel to Aba (in Abia State) you’ll discover that the crayfish there are cheaper there than in Akwa Ibom, and the traders from Aba are buying from here. It is because of the union,” Mr. Raphael said, adding that the government would do whatever it takes to break the monopoly that the unions are trying to create in the markets.