President Buhari orders CBN to halt Forex provision for food imports

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop making foreign exchange available to food importers, saying that the directive is to ensure the steady improvement in agricultural production and to attain full food security.

The statement was made while the president hosted his party’s, All Progressive Congress (APC) governors to eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura, Kastina State.

A statement Tuesday by a presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as telling All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, that the foreign reserves will be conserved and utilised 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 said 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 ongoing revolution to feed the nation.

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

It would be recalled that the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in December 2018, said that Nigeria’s monthly food import bill fell from $665.4 million in January 2015 to $160.4 million as of October 2018; an implied savings of over $21 billion on food imports alone over that period.

Emefiele stated that the reductions in food imports were recorded on rice, fish, milk, sugar and wheat, adding that the policy would be maintained.

“Most evident were the 97.3% cumulative reduction in monthly rice import bills, 99.6% in fish, 81.3% in milk, 63.7% in sugar, and 60.5% in wheat,” Emefiele said at bankers’ dinner in Lagos.

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 will be taught and guided to ensure they meet the targets of the APC-led government for the people, with regular monitoring of their performances and scaling up of targets by the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (OSGF).

Speaking at the meeting, Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti state governor and chairman of the Nigerian governors’ forum, said the president’s sense of justice, fairness and forthrightness have become an inspiration to governors on the way forward for the country.

Fayemi also said the challenges faced by states were enormous, but that the governors had remained undaunted. He assured the president of support and “the very best effort’’ to overcome all the obstacles.

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