By Lawrence Olaoye
The Presidency has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has not ordered any ban or restriction of importation of food items into the country.
The President has recently ordered that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should not issue foreign exchange for the importation of food items into the country because Nigeria has attained food sufficiency.
In a letter to the Editor of Financial Times responding to an article titled “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports”, published on the 15th August, 2019, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated that the publication suggested that “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.”
According to him, the President “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 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.
We look forward to the next instalment of Mr. Munshi’s bizarre and puzzling article series.”