The presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has not banned or restricted food importation into the nation
The explanation was contained in a letter to the editor of Financial Times over its recent report on Nigeria’s food imports
The president’s mandate, a presidential associate stated, just has to do with FOREX from the Central Bank of Nigeria The presidency on Sunday, August 18, clarified that President Muhammadu Buhari has not banned or restricted food importation into the country. The explanation was contained in a letter to the editor of Financial Times over its recent report entitled: “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports.” President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, August 12 in Daura, Katsina state, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.
An announcement by the senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, blamed the understanding of the Financial Time report over the issue.
Shehu there was no ban or limitation on food imports, including that simporters of the food items are still free to source their FOREX from non-government financial institution towards gathering their importations. The president’s order, he said only has to do with FOREX from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Part of the statement read: “To be absolutely clear, there is no ban – or restriction – on the importation of food items whatsoever. “President Buhari has consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base. A recent decision sees the Central Bank maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of domestic industry in 41 product sectors rather than provide FOREX for the import of those products from overseas. “Should importers of these items wish to source their FOREX from non-government financial institutions (and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing tax-take, something the Financial Tims has berated Nigeria for not achieving on many occasions) they are freely able to do so.
“Diversification of FOREX provision towards the private sector and away from top-heavy government control, a diversification of Nigeria’s industrial base, and an increase in tax receipts – are all policies one might expect the Financial Times to support. “Yet for reasons not quite clear, the author and this newspaper seem to believe the president’s administration seeks to control everything – and yet do so via policies that relinquish government control.” Last year, President Buhari said that his administration will not rest in continually reviewing and strengthening ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regains its pride of place as a food exporting country. “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 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,” the president said while hosting political leaders at the Presidential Villa.