Don’t Provide Forex for Food Import, Buhari Orders CBN

*Says he will continue to fight for the poor

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja 

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Daura, Katsina State, said with the steady improvement in agricultural production, and eventual attainment of food security, he had instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to henceforth, stop the provision of foreign exchange for food importation.

The president who made the disclosure while hosting the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to an Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his Daura country home, said the nation’s  foreign reserve would be conserved and strictly utilised for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.

“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,’’ he said.

According to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, Buhari noted that states such as Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had already taken advantage of the federal government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming, and urged more states to also explore what he viewed as the ongoing revolution to feed the nation.

“We have achieved food security, and for physical security, we are not doing badly,’’ Shehu quoted the president.

The statement also said Buhari expressed happiness over the decision of young Nigerians, including graduates, to explore agric-business and entrepreneurship, with many posting testimonies of good returns on their investments.

It also said the president pledged that the incoming ministers would be “taught’’ and thoroughly guided to ensure they meet the targets of the APC-led federal government for Nigerians by regularly monitoring their performances and scaling up targets by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

“The President assured that he will attend the Presidential Policy Retreat organised for the ministers by the OSFG, and insisted on compliance with laid down targets on key sectors of the economy that will directly impact on the livelihood of Nigerians.

“In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, said the President’s sense of justice, fairness and forthrightness had turned a major inspiration to governors on the way forward for the country.  

“He said the challenges faced by states ‘were enormous,’ but the governors had remained undaunted, assuring the president of strong support and ‘the very best effort’’ to overcome all the obstacles.

“The Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, appreciated the President for the unique leadership style of maintaining a healthy relationship with governors on individual and collective basis, pointing  out that they had been ‘energised,’ to do more in their states,” the statement added.

Furthermore, Shehu said Bagudu commended the president for making bold and courageous efforts to reposition the economy in the interest of majority of Nigerians through inclusive policies, observing that “the country is more secure than in 2015, and the country is more prosperous than in 2015 because you are working for the majority of the people.”

He also said the governor pointed out that the party had been repositioned, after the 2019 elections, to work for the benefits of the majority of Nigerians, noting that “there will be two elections this year and we need to work towards winning the two states.’’

In another event Tuesday, Buhari said he would use his second term in office to improve the lives of Nigerians by paying close attention to the wellbeing of the poor and the less privileged.

Shehu said the president made the pledge while addressing leaders of various communities from the five local government areas of Daura Emirate, whom he said paid him a visit in the spirit of Eid El-Kabir celebration.

According to him, the president said he was convinced that majority of Nigerians understood who he is and his mission. He said  it was against this background that they re-elected him for a second term in office with a larger margin of votes than 2015.

“You know how much I laboured to get here. I ran three times in the past. The fourth time, God used technology to do it for me. The fifth time I ran (February 23, 2019), I went to all the states of the federation. The turnout of crowds was overwhelming.

“Truly, the people know and understand my mission. This is what the votes showed. The administration will dwell on our campaign issues — security, economy and corruption. We will fight for the poor,” he was quoted as saying.

 Shehu also said Buhari disclosed that in view of the important place agriculture occupies in his administration, he would appoint a minister who is knowledgeable in the field of agriculture and who will also be skillful in promoting investment and interest in the sector.

“I will appoint a minister who knows agriculture and its role in providing jobs and growing our economy. You have seen how we broke the fertiliser jinx in the country. We will do more to better the lots of our farmers. Agriculture is our strength,” he quoted him to have said.

According to the statement, Hon. Yusuf Bello Mai’ Aduwa, one the leaders of the delegation, in his remarks, thanked Nigerians for giving the president a second mandate to lead the country for another four years, saying he will not let the country down.