By Abba Gwale
President Muhammad Buhari has restated that his government still stands on its directives given to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to not provide foreign exchange for food importation to the country.
The President also promised to Nigerians that this administration will keep an eye on the rising cost of foodstuffs in the country, from the first quarter of next year.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, since seven of the Nigerian states can produce enough rice to feed the nation, “it makes no sense to import food.”
Buhari said this during his fifth meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council at the State House on Tuesday.
Buhari further emphasized that his government policy of economic diversification from petrol to agriculture has helped Nigeria from falling into serious economic meltdown caused by Coronavirus pandemic.
“The CBN must not give money to import food. Already, about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce,” he said.
Buhari also boasted that before he came into power, Nigeria had only three fertilizer blending plants, but now has 33.
Commenting on the progress made in agricultural production through economic diversification, Buhari predicted where the country would have been by now at the time when COVID-19 is ravaging the global economy.
“Going back to the farm is the way out. We depended on petrol at the expense of agriculture. Now, the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce only 1.5 million barrels a day as against our capacity to produce 2.3 million. At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high, compared to the Middle East production cost,” Buhari lamented.
“We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the farm. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches. We are back to the land now.
“We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and closed the borders. We would have been in trouble.” Buhari added
He also said his government is working hard day and night to stop the inflation of goods in the country.