Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, (AMBCN), South East and South South chapters have protested against what they called Federal Government's 15% levy collection on wheat importation and multiple taxation with a threat to withdraw its services.
The bakers numbering over a hundred on Tuesday during the protest in Asaba, Delta state capital demanded the immediate reduction of flour from millers, saying that the levy that was introduced in 2012 was domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the purpose of development of cassava bread.
The placard carrying protesters with various inscriptions such as "Notice of Imminent Bakers Services Withdrawn is Hereby Served", FG Save Our Industry From Total Collapse, We Are The Second Largest Employers of Labour After FG", 50 kg Flour in Tanzania is N4, 500, But in Nigeria, it is N11, 000", lamented the high cost of sugar and flour in Nigeria in comparison to other African countries.
Speaking at the protest ground, the leader of the protesters and National Secretary of the Association, Jude Okafor, lamented that the federal government policy has negative effects on the bakers across the country, and warned that should the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration fails to address their demands, they will have no option than to withdraw their services nationwide.
According to Mr. Okafor, six years on, the initiative has clearly failed as all the components of the laudable programme have been abandoned but the bakers are still made to pay the N1, 000 levy.
"The fund was to be used to for the development of cassava bread which includes training, equipping of 5, 000 bakers, six in each of the 774 local councils in the country. The terminal date for the first period is 2016, as we speak only 1, 584 bakers have been trained, only 151 bakers have been partially equipped in a very unacceptable circumstances which even grossly violated the disadvantageous MoU entered between the Ministry of Agriculture and Bank of Industry."
While tasking the federal government to as a matter urgency reduce the prices of the commodities in consonance with the present exchange rate of naira to the dollar and high cost of diesel which were the factors that influenced the increase then. Mr. Okafor called for the use of the accumulated money domiciled in CBN to train and empower 20, 000 master bakers in the country.
"The federal and state governments must put a stop to the multiple vexatious taxations, we are already considering the option of embarking on strike after the next National Executive Council meeting which comes up shortly, should the government refused to address our grievances." Okafor threatened.