Yuletide Trade



One of the most enduring lessons this reporter was taught during an Economics class in the Federal Government College, Warri, Delta State more than 30 years ago was that when supply outweighs demand for any product, the price of that product automatically comes down until demand picks up. However, that scenario appears opposite to what obtains in Nigeria, where many traders try to take advantage of any economic situation to extort maximum profit from hapless buyers.

How does one explain that common palm oil, which is sold for N800 per litre or N4,000 for a 5-litre gallon, is so much costlier than diesel, groundnut oil or petroleum? The irony is that most palm oil products sold in Nigeria are reportedly produced and processed locally, so ascribing any fraudulent rise in palm oil price to the fluctuations in the dollar rate smacks of crass opportunism.

What of the 100 per cent increase in the cost of rice even though more than 14 States are currently producing and processing rice products around the country? Yes, the economy is in a recession, but the antics of some traders in the name of an extra buck are simply unbelievable.

However, there is a twist especially in this Yuletide period, where product prices are usually expected to soar due to anticipated huge demand by Christmas shoppers. Many citizens are not buying food and other items as expected, for obvious reasons ranging from low cash to belt-tightening.

The bottom line is: some buyers are not buying and the traders are not happy. However cynical it may sound, it feels good to see some of these selfish traders being disappointed. This should be a season of goodwill and not of ill will…..not so?