A Nigeria knowledge institution, Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, has called on President Buhari to reconsider his directive to the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, over forex denial for food importers revealing such blanket order could create smugglers paradise and will make the common man suffer.
President Buhari had on Tuesday directed the apex bank to henceforth deny forex for importation of food which is being locally produced in Nigeria.
Mr. President opined that the foreign reserve shall be maintained to be exclusively utilized for diversification of the nation’s economy and not for encouraging food dependency especially the one that is readily available locally.
According to Eze Onyekpere, the CSJ director, in his statement faulted the order describing it an illegal directive for variety of reasons.
The statement partly reads, “The first issue is on the legality of the directive. Quoting S.1 (3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007, it is provided that:
“In order to facilitate the achievement of its mandate under this Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, and in line with the objective of promoting stability and continuity in economic management, the Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its functions.
Therefore, “There are no provisions in the CBN Act or any other existing law empowering the President to run or give directives on foreign exchange management or any other component of monetary policy. This directive erodes the independence and autonomy of the CBN he said. This he said will present Nigeria in the image of the Idi Amin tale, when he gave directives to the governor of the Ugandan Central Bank to print more currencies when told that the country was running out of money. This directive could be seen as illegal which the Governor and Board of the CBN will obey at their own risk.
More so, “The second issue he stated is that such policies like this, assuming is coming from the CBN would have required it in stages and gradual approach in implementing to the point at which forex for food importation will be reduced to its barest minimum until it is faced out.
This would have involved a multi-dimensional engagement of farmers, food processors, the banking industry, transport and electricity sectors, etc., with clear demonstrable milestones of achievements to indicate the attainment of food security. This directive is rather a knee jerk in reaction to the euphoria of sycophants who pester Mr. President that his agricultural policies are working.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support their assertion in terms of quantity, quality, and affordability of foods available to Nigerians he said.
The CSJ director added “With the price of basic staples like rice and garri tripled since 2015 and still Nigeria labelled as the poverty capital of the world, it is obvious that the majority of Nigerians neither enjoy economic or physical accessibility to adequate food.