The Federal Government has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop issuing forex to food and fertilizer importers henceforth. The Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu stated this in a statement titled, “Don’t give a kobo for food, fertilizer imports, President Buhari directs CBN,” saying those who insist on doing so should source their forex elsewhere. The SSA revealed the order was given during the meeting on National Food Security Council at the State House Abuja.
However, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in its reaction faulted the Federal Government over the decision saying the directive could further cause inflation of food items in the country as at present the food item is not sufficient as the president assume.
During the year 2015 the CBN had 41 goods and services that they penciled to be denied forex, however, the list has swollen to 44.
Yesterday, Shehu quoted Buhari to have reiterated his earlier directive that the apex bank, promising to pass it down in writing that ’nobody importing food should be given money.’’
Buhari added that on fertilizer, ‘’from only three operating in the country, we now have 33 fertilizer blending plants all working.
“We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import fertilizer. Instead, we will empower local producers.’’
Subsequently, the president directed the fertilizer companies to convey the product directly to the state government to avoid middlemen cartel in the business.
The president reiterated that “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,’’ Also during the meeting, Buhari boasted that his administration has recorded tremendous achievement in the last five years, especially in the area of agriculture despite the blow by the COVID-19 that took the world unaware.
As quoted by his Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina, Buhari said, “Despite COVID-19, we’ve been able to avert food crisis, the pandemic has exposed our level of preparedness to shocks of food security.
Accordingly, Shehu further stated that the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, had outlined measures the administration set to tackle the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation as contained in the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan.
He disclosed that part of it was 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 further disclosed that to ease existing financial hardships among the people, the government is also coming up with low-interest loans for mechanics, tailors, artisans, petty traders, and other informal business operators.
Meanwhile, MAN and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday reacted to the President’s directive on food importation versus the forex.
Mr. Ambrose Oruche, the Acting Director-General of MAN revealed that as at present, contrary to the government claim, the country food sufficiency is not optimum and requires more importation.
He said failure to do so would throw the food price further into more inflation.