President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, September 10, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria ”not to issue a kobo” of the country’s reserves for the importation of food items as well as fertilizer.
Garba Shehu, one of the President’s spokesmen, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said the president gave the order at a meeting of the National Food Security Council at the State House, Abuja.
According to the president, the order has become imperative as the Federal Government rolls out the Economic Sustainability Plan as well as sets a goal for National Food Security.
Buhari restated his earlier verbal directive to the apex bank, saying he would pass it down in writing that ”nobody importing food should be given money.”
While emphasizing the need to boost local agriculture, the president said: ”From only three operating in the country, we have 33 fertilizer blending plants now working.
”We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import fertilizer. We will empower local producers.”
He also directed that blenders of fertilizer should convey products directly to state governments; so as to skip the cartel of transporters undermining the efforts; to successfully deliver the products to users at reasonable costs.
Buhari advised private businesses bent on food importation to source their foreign exchange independently.
”Use your money to compete with our farmers instead of using foreign reserves to bring in compromised food items; to divest the efforts of our farmers.
”We have a lot of able-bodied young people willing to work and agriculture is the answer. We have a lot to do to support our farmers,” he said.
The meeting, chaired by the President with other key members of the Council in attendance; was briefed on the food security situation prevailing in the country.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, outlined measures; introduced by the administration to tackle the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation; as contained in the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
Among others, the minister highlighted that the government would facilitate the cultivation of 20,000 to 100,000 hectares; of new farmland in every state and support off-take of agro-processing to create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.
The minister said arrangements had reached an advanced stage to provide 25 million new users of electricity; with the installation of Solar Home System (SHS) targeting five million households.
Ahmed also briefed on the joint investment with the World Bank to provide intervention fund to states to improve health infrastructure.