President Muhammadu Buhar has given an assurance that his administration would not rest in continually reviewing and strengthening the ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regained her pride of place as a food-exporting country.
Receiving the All Progressives Congress (APC) family from Kebbi State, in the Presidential Villa, on Friday, Buhari said that the country’s huge rice import bill had dropped significantly by more than 90 per cent, adding that it wasn’t good enough by his expectation.
“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 per cent, 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.
He also said Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto states had already reported remarkable turn around in the agricultural sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.
Food import bill
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 depleted the foreign reserves.
“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 million barrel per day, I did not believe them.
“I did not believe them, because a 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,’’ he added.
Security in the North East
On security of the North Eastern region,
which remained troubled by Boko Haram insurgents, Buhari said that the return of farmers to their farm lands in the in the region, with glaring results of high yields, was a testimony to the relative peace that had been achieved.
He gave an assurance that more would be done to check the mayhem of suicide attacks.
The President said his administration would increase its effort to reposition the educational and health sectors to compete with other global institutions.