Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The National Economic Council (NEC) has warned the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other agencies to make sure that poisonous food items are not imported into the country.
Briefing State House correspondents after the monthly NEC meeting in Abuja which the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, presided over, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, said the council expressed concern on the fact that poisonous foods still found their way into the country.
He said NEC resolved to make sure that foods unfit for human consumption do not find their way into the country.
Okorocha was accompanied by the governors of Edo and Adamawa States, Adams Oshiomhole and Jubrila Bindow, respectively.
Constitutionally, the vice president is the chairman of the council which consists of all state governors, the Ministers of Finance, and Budget and National Planning, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor.
Okorocha said the council was briefed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
He said: “The minister shared with us his action plans and how to improve on food production in the country. One of our major challenges now is about agriculture, taking it as a pivot in which all the wheels of economic activities must rotate if we must go out of recession.
“We have agreed at NEC that state governors should partner with the federal government in this regards to ensure productivity and high yields in the agriculture sector.
“We thank God that this year, because of good rains, we shall experience bumper harvest which will force the prices of food items to go down.
“We commended the anchor borrowers programme of the federal government through the CBN as a success story. Many states now have embarked on rice farming which guarantees us sufficiency in rice production in the next year. So, agriculture was very key in our resolve to come out of recession quickly.
“We were concerned about some of the imported goods, some of the items imports into this country in the name of food and we have cautioned seriously that SON, NAFDAC and other agencies that deal with quality of goods should do their best so that rubbish is not brought into this country in the name of food.
“We realised that some of the frozen chicken and fish imports into this country are being preserved with very dangerous chemicals. So we are of the opinion that this area should be looked into.”
Okorocha said the council resolved that agriculture should continue to take the centre stage in the country to enable the country feed itself.
“If we are not able to do this, employment for our youth would be a mere dream,” he added.
He also acknowledged the challenge facing the power sector and called on operators to continue to improve on power generation and distribution.
When asked whether the council discussed a possibility of increase in the electricity tariff, Okorocha said nothing as such was discussed.
Also speaking, Oshiomhole said the council resolved to create an enabling environment for Nigerians to own their houses.
According to him, government recognised the need to generate real jobs in the economy.
He said building and housing remained a key issue in the attempt to reflate the economy to create jobs and renew the prospect of economic growth.
The Edo state governor said: “So, if government says we are monetising and we are no longer going to give official quarters, government is not good in managing, that’s not the same as saying that government would fold its arms and watch more and more Nigerians become homeless.
“We have to provide site and services so that for the people who have the means to apply for land to acquire it can build their own house to their own taste. But you have to agree that there are Nigerians who are not in position to buy house.”
Further details made available to State House Correspondents by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, on NEC meeting revealed that the balance of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the month of October 2016 stood at $2.4 billion.
He also stated that in support of the administration’s effort to diversify and deepen the nation’s revenue profile, NEC endorsed the federal government’s plan to increase the contribution of the solid minerals sector to the nation’s treasury.
He said NEITI estimated total revenue from the mining sector at N31.449 billion and N50.2 billion in 2012 and 2013 respectively but only N1.9billion and N2.01 billion respectively were remitted as royalties to the the federal government
He said there were no records of royalty payment for gold, precious stones, barites and other exported solid minerals.
Akande said that following a presentation to the council by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the council approved the appointment of professional revenue consultants to achieve this goal.
He also said NEC also supported a presentation from the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola on his ministry’s strategy to generate incremental power as a short term measure towards addressing current energy shortage in the country.
He said the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, reported to council that disbursement of the Budget Support facility was still ongoing to 35 states.
Akande said the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Raji Fashola made a presentation to council on how to ensure stable power supply.
He said government’s plan was to deliver incremental, stable, and then uninterrupted power to homes and businesses in stages.
In this regard, he explained that government would systematically and decisively deal with the immediate task to harness incremental power from all available sources.