Drama ensued yesterday, in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, when a team of stern-looking task force led by the Iyaloja, Mrs. Omowaye Oso, raided some markets to force down ‘high’ prices of foodstuffs.
Oso said she decided to deal with some sellers she described as ‘shylocks,’ for imposing exorbitant prices on buyers on the flimsy excuse of fluctuation in the dollar exchange rate.
The task force stormed Bisi Egbeyemi Market, at Okeyinmi and ordered a sharp reduction of prices of goods, especially foodstuffs, which she personally sold to buyers.
Some of the commodities which prices were reduced on the orders of the Iyaloja included garri, local rice popularly known as ‘Buhari rice’ and palm oil.
A bowl of garri, which the marketers had increased to N200 was reduced to N100, 20 litres of palm oil which used to sell at N22,000 was reduced to N15,000 while a congo of local rice was sold at N400 as against N500.
The Iyaloja, who is also the president of Market Women Associations in the state, said she has ordered that a small measure of okro and locust beans be sold at N20 as against N50.
Oso said the raid would be a continuous exercise as she and her team have the backing of the state government and the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe, whom she said are also concerned about cut-throat prices of goods and services in the town.
“The cost of foodstuffs is too high in Ado Ekiti and it is the state capital where prices of goods and services should be cheapest. Market women should have mercy on the poor because things are too expensive here, unlike other Ekiti towns and villages.
“It is unfortunate that market women in other communities don’t want to sell in their areas; they now bring their wares to Ado because they believe they will sell it at twice the price of what they are supposed to sell it in their communities.
“As the Iyaloja, one of my responsibilities is that people don’t buy at cut-throat prices and we have the support of the state government, the Ewi and his chiefs in carying out this exercise, which will be a continuous one and be repeated in all markets in Ado.
“It is unfortunate that 20 litres of palm oil which sells at N14,000 in Ikole is being sold at N22,000 in Ado but we have sold it at N15,000 now, as against the N22,000 they hitherto sell it.
“The Kabiyesi has said he does not want hardship for the people of Ado.
“We have forced down the price of a bowl of local rice from N500 to N400, garri from N200 to N100.
“Ado is now attaining a bad reputation for high prices of goods and services but, we will not allow this to continue.
“We will continue to carry out our raids until our market women comply and anyone who cannot comply must look elsewhere to sell her wares.
“If you cannot sell your palm oil at lower prices ,don’t bring it down to Ado again.”
Excited buyers at the market and other residents commended the market raid, saying it would save poor people who are struggling to survive.
One of the fortunate buyers, Adunni Olu said: “The raid is a good development because we had thought that the Ado market women were untouchable because they are notorious for selling at prices beyond the reach of the common man.”
Also, Mrs Oluwakemi Adepoju said: “For us in Ado Ekiti, this is a great thing happening, we want Iyaloja to go to all cold rooms where fish are being sold and those selling imported rice to force down the prices. We are expecting them in five days time.”