On Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to immediately restrict forex access to any sort of food importation. The president made this known while hosting All Progressive Congress (APC) Governors for Eid-el-kabir in his home town Daura. He said Nigeria’s foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for the diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food imports bills.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country.” He said.
That sounds similar to many other steps that have been taken by the CBN recently, only that it didn’t involve everything food, and it’s not taking orders from the president. Many believe that the recent statement of the president is an evidence that the Federal Government sees importation as a serious threat to the growth of domestic products, even when there is not enough domestic products to go round.
President Buhari noted that some states like Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Ebonyi and Kano are already taking advantage of his administration policies on agriculture by going into rice farming which is yielding good results for them. He therefore urged other states to plug in to ensure food security.
He also praised the efforts of the FG so far, saying that it has yielded hunger quenching results.
“We have achieved food security, and for physical security, we are not doing badly.”
President Buhari said he is happy that young Nigerians, including graduates are now seeing agriculture as part of entrepreneurship, and many have been publishing testimonies of good return on investment. An evidence he said should spur others to join the quest to feed the nation.
The president assured that incoming ministers will be trained to effectively work to achieve the targets and goals of the APC-led government. And there is going to be close monitoring through the office of the Secretary General of the Federation (SGF).
The APC Governors who were in attendance pledged to do their best to implement policies that will work out well for Nigerians. They said their party had been repositioned after the 2019 elections, to work for the benefit of the majority of Nigerians.
However, Nigerians have condemned the president’s statement ordering the CBN not to give anybody a cent for food importation, saying that the CBN is an independent institution that should not take orders from the government. Some urged the FG to always follow due process when trying to implement any policy, even though it is in the interest of Nigerians.
There is also complain that Buhari’s administration is insensitive to the plights of Nigerians to come up with such an idea at this time when most Nigerians are dying of hunger. According to Poverty World Clock, over 91 million Nigerians have been plunged into multidimensional poverty since 2015, and are living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day. A situation that many believe that the current economic policies cannot improve. And the ban of food importation could only make it worse since Nigeria does not have the infrastructural capacity to produce enough food that will bridge the demand gap that the food import ban will create.