Buhari’s Focused on food Imports.
NaijaNews Nigeria reports that speaking at the fifth regular meeting of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja recently, President Muhammadu Buhari once again gave the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) a directive not to provide foreign exchange for food importation, insisting that the country must produce what it consumed. He had once hinted at this measure during a Sallah meeting of All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at his country home in Daura, Katsina State.
This online news medium understand that His logic appeared lucid enough at the first glance: he premised his conclusion on the apparent jeopardy of importing what could be locally sourced.
The troubling truth however is that economic decisions reached on the spur of the moment rarely help to solve the problems identified. The country is still grappling with the harrowing effects of armed herders’ onslaught on farmers, a phenomenon dubiously dubbed ‘farmers/herders clashes’, including a drastic reduction in food production and prohibitively high cost of foodstuff. For a long time, farming has meant an open invitation to death and destruction and the scars are still fresh in the memories of farmers lucky enough to survive the herders’ genocidal rage. As a matter of fact, rice farmers were only recently cut down in cold blood in Maiduguri, Borno State, and only the bravest of citizens can visit his/her farm in the North-East and many other parts of the country.
In case the Presidency needs reminding, Nigeria’s food production hasn’t reached the point where it may comfortably turn its back on food imports without causing the populace palpable pains. Banning or discouraging food imports in the face of negligible local production is nothing but an assault on the country’s food security. For instance, the borders have only just been opened, particularly in the southern parts of the country, and millions of Nigerians are only just beginning to heave a sigh of relief after over a year of border closure. Although the president made allusions to rice farmers who are mainly at the receiving end of hostilities from terrorists and armed herders, Nigeria still needs other food items to be completely free from the pressures of food insecurity.
As many agricultural experts have noted, there is a shortage of maize for the production of poultry feeds, and poultry farms have been closing up shop. As a matter of fact, if the CBN doesn’t come to the rescue of importers, there is bound to be crisis in the food sector. It is easy to understand the president’s fears about food importation and its sustainability and implications for the economy, but then there should be a way to get a good balance of priorities so that the agonies attendant upon the consequential scarcities can be staved off. Nigerians deserve to be protected from hunger and other corollaries of food shortage.
President Buhari ought to have critically examined the country’s food security situation before launching an onslaught on food imports. Already, there is palpable hunger and anger on the streets. The land is teeming with malnourished children and starving adults. Increasing the country’s misery though a malicious order to the CBN is quite simply uncalled for.