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FOREX: Don’t give a cent to support food imports, Buhari instructs CBN governor


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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said he had directed Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange to food importers as the nation has grown sufficient food capable of feeding its citizens.

“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” Buhari instructed.

The President disclosed this when he played host to All Progressives Congress (APC) elected Governors as part of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration in Daura, Katsina State. He added that money kept in the foreign reserve would be spent solely to diversify the economy.

He emphasised the nation would no longer encourage food importation considering the high import bills.

In 2015, the CBN said the nation spent $2.41 billion on rice importation between January 2012 and May 2015.

While Emefiele lamented on the huge sum expended on food imports, Audu Ogbeh, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) also put the figure at $22 billion annually.

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“Nigeria spends almost $22 billion every year on food importation. If we don’t fix agricultural problems in the country where families can feed on less than 15 per cent of its budget, then the country is in trouble.” Ogbeh stated.

In March, the CBN governor stressed how the country spends $500 million annually importing palm oil, aside from another $40 billion spent on textile imports yearly.

The current administration’s claim on rice production has also raised doubts on exact local rice production capacity.

However, Buhari noted that some states like Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had already taken advantage of the Federal Government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming, urging more states to plug into the on-going revolution to feed the nation.

“We have achieved food security, and for physical security, we are not doing badly,” he added.

In a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Buhari expressed delight on increasing youth involvement, including graduates on agribusiness and entrepreneurship.

APC Governors meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State
Photo Credit: Garba Shehu

The President informed that the incoming cabinet members would be enlightened, well guided and monitored to ensure they deliver on their responsibilities. According to him, their targets would as well be scaled up by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

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He promised to attend the Presidential Policy Retreat organized for the ministers by the OSGF, insisting on compliance with laid down targets on key sectors of the economy capable of impacting the livelihood of the masses.

In his remarks, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, described the challenges confronting the states as ‘enormous’.

However, he assured the president of overcoming the problems.

Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, applauded the President for his leadership style, maintaining a healthy relationship with the governors on an individual and collective basis.

“The country is more secure than in 2015, and the country is more prosperous than in 2015 because you are working for the majority of the people,” he claimed.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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