President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that he had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give any importer foreign exchange to import food into Nigeria.
Also, at a separate event on Tuesday, Buhari said he would set performance targets for his new ministers, while someone with expertise in agriculture would head the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
He said he ordered the CBN to stop giving forex to food importers because he was convinced that the country had achieved “full food security” and could cater for itself with the recent progress made in the agricultural sector.
The President noted that rather than spend hard currency on importing food, the Federal Government would preserve the country’s foreign reserve “strictly for diversification of the economy.”
He spoke at his country home in Daura, Katsina State, when the All Progressives Congress’ governors visited him to share the Eid-el-Kabir lunch with him.
The governors were led by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, who is also the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Fayemi.
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“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” a State House statement quoted Buhari as what he directed the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to do.
To buttress his position on why he believed the country did not need to import food, Buhari cited states including Ogun, Kebbi, Lagos, Jigawa, Kano and Ebonyi, which he said, were already making huge profits by engaging in rice farming.
He added that the states became successful in rice farming by embracing the Federal Government’s policy on agriculture, aiming primarily to feed Nigerians with home-grown food.
Explaining his position further, he told the governors, “We have achieved food security, and for physical security we are not doing badly.”
He also said he was happy that many Nigerian graduates were getting into agric-related business and entrepreneurship that had been yielding appreciable returns for their efforts.
The President also spoke on his cabinet soon to be inaugurated, saying that targets would be set for the ministers to ensure that they performed.
Buhari, who said he would personally attend the Presidential Policy Retreat to be organised for them, added that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation would monitor the performance of the ministers.
“The President assured (the governors) that he would 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 would directly impact on the livelihood of Nigerians,” the State House statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said.
Speaking earlier, Fayemi praised Buhari for what he described as his “sense of justice, fairness and forthrightness” that gave the governors their own inspiration.
He informed Buhari that though the states faced “enormous’’ challenges, the governors were doing their best to overcome them.
On his part, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, commended Buhari for working closely with the governors all the time.
“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,” Bagudu added.
He also told the session that the APC should work toward winning the governorship election coming up in two states this year.
The states are Bayelsa and Kogi.
Meanwhile, at a separate session with communities from the five Local Government Areas of Daura Emirate, Buhari said his mission this second term was to seriously improve on the lives of the poor.
He cited agriculture as an important area where his administration would focus on, especially because of its huge potential to create jobs for the nation’s youths.
Buhari disclosed that for this reason, he would give the Ministry of Agriculture portfolio to a minister knowledgeable in agriculture as a huge job creator.
The President stated, “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.”