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(Opinion) Really, we want to ban food imports at this time?
Imported rice being offloaded at the ports

(Opinion) Really, we want to ban food imports at this time?

By Polycarp Gbaja.

I read with consternation a story media outlets made public that President Muhammadu Buhari gave instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop giving out foreign exchange for food importation. I was shocked!

More perplexing is that we were not toId, and have not been told, why none of the so-called progressive governors did not advise the President otherwise. They were more interested in eulogising him, as if all is well with Nigeria and Nigerians. None of them, while eating the sumptuous meal at his table, recalled to him the dire statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) churned out concerning Nigeria’s hunger index.

For the records, the story on the President’s ill-advised comments reads:

President Muhammadu Buhari says the directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop providing foreign exchange for food importation was to improve agricultural production and attain full food security.

Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman in a statement, said Buhari stated this when he hosted All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura, Katsina state on Tuesday.

According to the president, the foreign reserve will be used strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food.

“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,’’ he said.

The President noted that some states like Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had taken advantage of the Federal Government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming.

He, therefore, urged more states to plug into the ongoing revolution to feed the nation.

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

Buhari said he was particularly delighted that young Nigerians, including graduates, had started exploring agric-business and entrepreneurship, with many posting testimonies of good returns on their investments.

He said the incoming ministers would be guided to meet the targets of the APC-led government for the people.

The president added that regular monitoring of their performances and scaling up of targets would be done by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Buhari gave the assurance of attending the Presidential Policy Retreat organized for the ministers by the OSFG.

He insisted on compliance with laid down targets on key sectors of the economy that would directly impact on the livelihood of Nigerians.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, said the President’s sense of justice and fairness had been inspiring to governors.

He said the challenges faced by states “were enormous”, but the governors had remained undaunted, assuring the President of strong support and “the very best effort” to overcome the obstacles.

The Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, appreciated the President for the unique leadership style of maintaining a healthy relationship with governors on individual and collective basis.

He stressed that they had been “energized’’ to do more in their states.

The governor commended the President for making bold and courageous efforts to reposition the economy for majority of Nigerians through inclusive policies.

“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 added.

Bagudu said the party had been repositioned, after the 2019 elections, to work for the benefit of the majority of Nigerians, noting that “there will two elections this year and we need to work towards winning the two states.

Really?!! While the so-called Fulani Herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers make agriculture impossible in our communities and the President continues to make excuses why he has refused to confront them head on?!!

Then blames victim communities for not giving up their land to an invading force of mainly Fulla stock, from foreign lands, even by his own admission, on their resolute mission to INVADE, DECIMATE & OCCUPY defenseless Nigerian communities?!

The PRIMARY and most urgent task of the President is to secure the lives and property of the people and land of Nigeria, which has been far beneath the acceptable. An enabling environment must be created for security and viable economic activity, with resource facilities and basic infrastructure properly put in place. THEREAFTER, a policy to stop the so-called facilities for specific imports could sensibly be activated effectively.

The milk issue a week or two ago borders on plain madness, given the present security and economic crises presently on ground. Those advisers to the President should be sacked.

There is also no doubt of a lot of blatant ineptitude on the part of even those charged with securing our ports and borders on both counts.

No hand outs are needed from a Government IF it provides an enabling environment to its citizens. The Nigerian Government is very FAR from achieving this. The index of poverty and suffering on the nation is indefensible. Nigerians are among the most hard working and resilient people on earth.

Its Governments, on the other hand, have been one of the most dismal in the world.
This ruling Regime/ Government should put itself in order before pouncing on its citizens and making them scapegoats for their own ineptitude, on its most basic and primary task, which seems to be failing blatantly and glaringly before the nation and the Global Community.

Gbaja, an Abuja-based minister sent this via WhatsApp.

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