Nigerians will begin Thursday to contend with scarcity of the staple food, wheat bread, as bread makers under the auspices of the Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) have announced a four-day warning strike about the high cost of doing business in the country.
The association, which comprises owners, managing directors and partners of premium bakeries in Nigeria, in a release signed by its president, Emmanuel Onuorah, said operating a bakery in Nigeria has become near impossible as the incessant increases in the prices of baking materials and diesel have rendered the industry comatose.
He said bakeries are mostly running on huge losses and this is no longer sustainable.
“Bread is a staple food and one of the cheapest foods that is available for both the poor and rich. It therefore behooves on the federal government to be mindful of this and ensure the survival and sustainability of the industry.
“In a move to ensure the survival of the premium breadmaking industry in Nigeria, we have decided to embark on a withdrawal of services beginning from July 21, 2022 for four days in the first instance and where no intervention from the government, we shall escalate the duration of the withdrawal,” he said.
The union, he said, wants the federal government to stop charging 15 per cent wheat development levy on wheat import; for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) to review downwards the N154,000 penalty charged bakeries on late renewal of certificates; for government to grant members access to grants and soft loans being given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Minor, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), and the stoppage of multi – agencies regulation of the breadmaking industry.
Onuorah said, “Our efforts to ensure the survival of the industry led to a series of meetings with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Abuja (FMITI) with our sister association in the breadmaking industry in 2021. Our best attempts to ensure that suggestions we put forward for the survival of the breadmaking industry have not yielded the desired result.
“Therefore, the withdrawal of service is the only way we believe we can use to get to the federal government and Nigerians and let them know our plight and how difficult it has been with the breadmaking industry in Nigeria.”