FORMER Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division, Oby Ezekwesili, said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) plan of banning the importation of milk would hurt the poor and increase the number of malnourished children in the country.
Ezekwesili wrote on her Twitter handle, @obyezeks on Friday, that the banning of the milk and other dairy products was a wrong policy to be made for Nigerians.
The Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele had earlier announced on Tuesday that the Federal Government would soon place restrictions on the importation of milk and other dairy products.
He had said that Nigeria spent between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion annually to import milk into the country.
“We can no longer continue to spend close to $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion, importing milk into the country, a product we can produce,” Emefiele said counting on the Nigerian herdsmen.
By producing the milk locally, Emefiele said the conflict between the herders and farmers would reduce.
“We have cows, if the cows are positioned in places without roaming around and they are given water to drink and grass to eat, they will be able to produce quality milk,” he said.
But the former minister of education, Ezekwesili, disagreed. She said the policy was “borne out of vindictiveness”.
Ezekwesili analysed that the banning of the milk would bring about its scarcity. She estimated that Nigerians consume up to 1.7 million tonnes of milk, while the milk production in the country was 600,000 tonnes.
“When milk ban policy happens, to avoid scarcity which prices milk up and out of the reach of the poor, Nigeria needs to immediately “triple” current production of milk.
“It appears from what the CBN said on the milk ban policy that it is a case of: ‘You folks rejected RUGA, here is your punishment.’ What a big shame that would be,” she tweeted.
Explaining on the need for the milk availability, she said: “Nigeria has the highest number of under-five children with chronic malnutrition (stunting or low height-for-age) in sub-Saharan Africa at more than 11.7 million, according to the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) (National Population Commission).”
“Child Poverty is even worst in a country that holds the ignoble record of being the World’s Capital of Extremely Poor People,” she tweeted.
Ezekwesili said President Muhammadu Buhari should flee from policies that could escalate poverty in the country.