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Lagos’ Discount Food Initiative Propels National Call for Economic Resilience .

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As Nigeria grapples with staggering inflation rates, reaching a distressing 31.7%, Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, stress that Lagos State emerges as a beacon of hope with its innovative approach to tackle the dire economic situation.

In response to the escalating cost of living, Lagos has pioneered the “Ounje Eko” food markets initiative, offering discounted prices on essential commodities across the state. This groundbreaking initiative, spearheaded by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, not only alleviates the financial burden on its residents but also sets a precedent for nationwide adoption amidst the prevailing economic turmoil.

The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) paints a grim picture of Nigeria’s economic woes. Headline inflation has surged to 31.7%, the highest level recorded since April 1996, exacerbating the hardships faced by ordinary Nigerians. Of particular concern is the soaring food inflation, which stands at a staggering 37.9% in February 2024.

This relentless upward trajectory in food prices has triggered protests and heightened the risk of food insecurity, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning that 8.0% of Nigerians are at high risk of food insecurity.

Amidst this economic turmoil, Lagos State has taken proactive measures to cushion the impact of high food prices on its residents through the “Ounje Eko” food markets initiative. Operating exclusively on Sundays across 57 locations in the state, these markets offer a 25% discount on staple food items, including rice, beans, garri, bread, eggs, tomatoes, and pepper.

The initiative incorporates innovative measures to ensure transparency and prevent exploitation, such as the introduction of a voucher system and careful selection of independent payment solution providers and food vendors. Prices of staple food items have been clearly outlined, fostering transparency and accountability.

The success of the Lagos Discount Food Initiative underscores the urgent need for similar interventions across the nation. State governments are urged to emulate Lagos’s proactive approach and establish discounted food markets to ease the burden on their citizens.

Furthermore, the federal government must lend its support by providing financial assistance and logistical support to scale up these initiatives nationwide. Expanding the initiative to all states across Nigeria holds immense potential to alleviate the burden of skyrocketing food prices and mitigate the widespread economic hardships inflicted by inflation. Adopting this model nationwide will help ease financial strain and enhance food accessibility for all socio-economic strata, fostering social cohesion and stability.

Finally, a nationwide rollout of discounted food markets would stimulate consumer spending, boost local economies, and contribute to the overall well-being and resilience of communities nationwide. By embracing this initiative, all states have an opportunity to demonstrate proactive governance, prioritize the welfare of their citizens, and contribute to the collective effort of building a more equitable and prosperous Nigeria.

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