Niger State denies ban on movements of food items to other states

Niger State Governor, Umar Bago

Niger State Governor, Umar Bago, has clarified misconceptions regarding the state’s stance on the mass purchase of food items from the state to other states in the country.

The governor said this while speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Bago said he only stopped bulk purchases of food from local markets to neighbouring countries, adding that food items purchased in the state markets were not stopped from being taken to other states.

He said the decision was to regulate the level of sales and ensure people were not exploited by smugglers.

“We have markets in the local government headquarters; we have local markets in the bushes; now these aggregators, saboteurs, and even smugglers go to these villages.

“For a farmer to give you a bag of paddy, it may take him two to three days because it’s manual. Imagine arresting two hundred trucks of paddy crossing the Benin Republic from Niger State.

“You can imagine what it does to the market. Our factories here are starved; people take our paddies to the Benin Republic, mill it, bring it back, and exploit our people.”

He highlighted the challenges faced by local farmers, including exploitation by middlemen and smugglers who divert agricultural produce to international markets.

Bago stressed the importance of protecting local industries and ensuring fair market prices for farmers.

“So, what we did was say, let’s control the level of sales. We know how much you need as a farmer; you don’t need to sell everything overnight.

“Why is somebody luring you with excess cash, not minding the price?” he queried.

He further emphasized the detrimental effects of unchecked food exportation on the local economy, adding that Niger State’s factories were suffering due to the exploitation of agricultural resources.

“A bag that we sell for N40,000, somebody is giving you N100,000; obviously, you know there’s a problem, so the ban is addressing the food inflation in the state.

He said his effort was yielding results, and it was necessary to intensify as a country while restating his commitment to support local farmers and ensure food security within the country.

The governor said there was a need for collaborative efforts to address challenges in the agricultural sector and promote sustainable development.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor, while responding to the reaction of the citizens to economic hardship, stopped the bulk purchase of food from local markets.

However, some reports claimed that Bago banned the sale and purchase of foods in bulk from Niger State to other Nigerian states.