By Patience Danjuma
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja said 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.
Receiving members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kebbi State in the Presidential Villa, the President said about 90 per cent of some food imports into the country, which usually gulped the country’s foreign exchange reserve, had been sliced, with Nigeria now targeting self-sufficiency in food production.
“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,’’ he said.
He said Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto states had already reported remarkable turn around in the agricultural sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.
The President said he disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointing out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices’’ by some of the elites to deplete the foreign reserves.
“When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 dollars per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them.
“I did not believe them because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown. It turned out that 50 per cent of the export bills were fraudulent. That is what the Nigerian elites did.
“Unfortunately, we will not know all that happened because the elites worked in collusion with institutions in developed countries, like insurance firms and other financial outfits, to perpetuate the fraud,’’ he added.
On security, President Buhari said the return of farmers to their farm lands in the North East, with glaring results of high yields, was a testimony to the relative peace that had been achieved.
He assured that more would be done to check the mayhem of suicide attacks.
The President said his administration will put in more effort to reposition the educational and health sectors to compete with other global institutions.
In his remarks, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu said the APC family was pleased with the performance of the administration in securing the country, reviving the economy and fighting corruption.
Bagudu and members of the delegation, which include the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and former PDP stalwarts in Kebbi State, also prayed for the quick recovery of the President’s son, Yusuf.