By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says the directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop providing foreign exchange for food importation was to improve agricultural production and attain full food security.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman in a statement, said Buhari stated this when he hosted All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura, Katsina state on Tuesday.
According to the president, the foreign reserve will be used strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,’’ he said.
The President noted that some states like Kebbi, Ogun, Lagos, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Kano had taken advantage of the Federal Government’s policy on agriculture with huge returns in rice farming.
He, therefore, urged more states to plug into the ongoing revolution to feed the nation.
“We have achieved food security, and for physical security we are not doing badly,’’ he said.
Buhari said he was particularly delighted that young Nigerians, including graduates, had started exploring agric-business and entrepreneurship, with many posting testimonies of good returns on their investments.
He said the incoming ministers would be guided to meet the targets of the APC-led government for the people.
The president added that regular monitoring of their performances and scaling up of targets would be done by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Buhari gave the assurance of attending the Presidential Policy Retreat organized for the ministers by the OSFG.
He insisted on compliance with laid down targets on key sectors of the economy that would directly impact on the livelihood of Nigerians.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, said the President’s sense of justice and fairness had been inspiring to governors.
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 the obstacles.
The Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, appreciated the President for the unique leadership style of maintaining a healthy relationship with governors on individual and collective basis.
He stressed that they had been “energized’’ to do more in their states.
The governor commended the President for making bold and courageous efforts to reposition the economy for majority of Nigerians through inclusive policies.
“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 added.
Bagudu said the party had been repositioned, after the 2019 elections, to work for the benefit of the majority of Nigerians, noting that “there will two elections this year and we need to work towards winning the two states.”