President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said that the Federal Government has neither banned nor restricted importation of food items into the country.
The President also explained his recent directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food items did not mean a restriction on the importation of food items.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, issued in Abuja, further stated that importers of food items that wished to source foreign exchange from non-government financial institutions – and pay customs duty on those imports – were free to do so.
The president’s spokesman was replying to a report in Financial Times, which was a letter to the Editor with titled “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports” and published on 15th August 2019.
Shehu wrote, “Your article “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports” (15 August) suggests the Nigerian Government is restricting the import of agricultural products into the country.
“This is simply incorrect. 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 the 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 FT 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.”