90% drop in food imports not good enough ―Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the country’s huge rice import bill had dropped significantly by more than 90 percent but added that it is good enough as he believes that the country should be a net exporter.
Receiving members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kebbi State in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday, the President said his administration will continually review and strengthen ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regains its pride of place as a food exporting country.
He said: “Beyond self-sufficiency, we must strive to become net exporters of food commodities.
“We are not doing badly in the agricultural sector and Nigerians, and the world are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will not be satisfied; we will work harder until we start exporting food.
“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country have gone down by over 90 percent, and visibly everyone can see how productive states like Kebbi have turned out to be and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example.”
He said Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto states had already reported remarkable turn around in the agricultural sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.
The President said he disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointing out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices’’ by some of the elites to deplete the foreign reserves.
According to him, “When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 dollars per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them.
“I did not believe them because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown. It turned out that 50 per cent of the export bills were fraudulent. That is what the Nigerian elites did.
“Unfortunately, we will not know all that happened because the elites worked in collusion with institutions in developed countries, like insurance firms, shipping companies and other financial outfits, to perpetuate the fraud.”
On security, President Buhari said the return of farmers to their farm lands in the North East, with glaring results of high yields, was a testimony to the relative peace that had been achieved.
He assured that more would be done to check the mayhem of suicide attacks.
The President said his administration will put in more effort to reposition the educational and health sectors to compete with other global institutions.
In his remarks, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu said the APC family was pleased with the performance of the administration in securing the country, reviving the economy and fighting corruption.
Bagudu and members of the delegation, which include former Governor of Kebbi State, Usman Saidu Dakingari and other former PDP stalwarts, prayed for the quick recovery of the President’s son, Yusuf.