Essenco 2

Cheta Nwanze
2 min readFeb 16, 2024

I’m in a meeting where a senior person is justifying the sealing of Sahad Stores, news of which has just broken. I have talked up and down trying to convince him that it’s a bad idea, but he insists that “they are badly behaved”.

I’ll quote verbatim from

’s weekly review, published this morning. What was talked about was a similar event in Kano earlier this week, where ten warehouses were sealed for “hoarding”.

The Dawanau International Grains Market, located within the local government where this incident occurred, is a major source of grains for local and international businesses — especially those in the West African region. It deals with cash and food crops, such as rice, millet, sorghum, maize, beans, sesame, groundnut and cowpea. Shops and warehouses are common in this area due to the volume of trade in the market. The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission is a public complaint and anti-corruption agency with jurisdiction within Kano. The commission is mandated to investigate and prosecute any person or authority for corruption, abuse of office, or misconduct in the state. Although Muhyi Magaji, the commission’s chairman, has said that hoarding is illegal according to the Price Control Act of 1976, it is important to understand how this affects investors’ perception in Nigeria. Food prices have fluctuated recently due to various factors, such as insecurity, poor transport and storage infrastructure, a haphazard trade policy on food imports, the FX regime, border closure, exchange rate, inflation, and supply and demand. The effect of hoarding on food prices is definitely not as impactful as these other factors. This action may be seen as a negative sign of the government’s willingness to interfere in the market and a lack of respect for the property rights of business owners. It may also be seen as a source of uncertainty and instability in the business environment. The US Department of State already lists regulatory inconsistency as one of the risks of investing in Nigeria, and this agency in Kano has just proven them right. We know the outcome of these desperate, populist moves by government agencies: foodstuff prices in Kano will experience a massive jump. Criminalising business people by accusing them of hoarding is a strategy that will only yield greater scarcity. This wild goose chase is foolish in a country where food inflation is 35%.

Dear Nigeria, 41 years ago, our military dictator at the time, a certain Muhammadu Buhari, ordered soldiers to break into warehouses of “greedy traders” and sell foodstuffs to “the masses” at low prices because the traders were “hoarding”.

Many people cheered the move. Then the food that was seized finished, and there was nothing the government could say, or do, to make the “greedy traders” restock the stolen items.

That thing una dey find, una go see am…



Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.