Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, says there is nothing the federal government could do about businesses exploiting Nigerians during the coronavirus pandemic.
The SGF said, during a press briefing by the presidential task force on the disease in Abuja, on Thursday, that Nigerians are fond of being exploitative in times of crisis.
There have been complaints about shops and retail outlets in Nigeria hiking prices of goods since the pandemic began.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) had also expressed concern over such arbitrary price hikes.
Mustapha, however, said the government can only appeal to the conscience of business owners to “show compassion”.
“Government cannot do anything about profiteering. And that is the negative spirit we have as a people,” he said.
“In the midst of a crisis, we want to maximise our profit. I know that we have this compassionate spirit as Nigerians, but sometimes we also have this exploitative spirit, that we take advantage of crisis in order to maximise profit.
“The Nigerian person as an individual has this compassion to care for his brother or sister. But when it comes to business, the exploitative spirit manifests itself like coronavirus manifests itself. So there is nothing government can do about it.”
The SGF said a similar hike in price of goods played out during the Ebola and Polio outbreak, and that “local traders and businessmen have a way”.
“But we are only appealing to their conscience, that this is not the time for exploitation. This is the time for us to show compassion,” he added.