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Buhari Finally reveals what would have happened if not for the closure of the border

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said Nigeria would have been in trouble if the Federal Government did not shut the land borders.

The Federal Government had in August 2019 closed its land borders to curtail illegal importation of drugs, small arms, and agricultural products into the country from neighbouring West African nations.

However, President Buhari ordered the reopening of the nation’s borders on December 16, after being shut for over a year.

Speaking at the fifth regular meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council held on Tuesday at the State House in Abuja, Buhari directed that the Central Bank of Nigeria “must not give money to import food. Already about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce.”

“Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and closed the borders. We would have been in trouble,” he said.

“We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the land. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches.

“We are back to the land now. We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people.”

President Buhari also emphasised the importance of agriculture in restoring the nation’s economy, adding that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation.

Full text of President Buhari's speech on October 1, 2020, Independence Day

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT BUHARI: GOVERNMENT WILL WRESTLE FOOD INFLATION IN THE COMING YEAR

President Muhammadu Buhari has given his words that the administration will keep a keen eye on food inflation in the New Year while giving a strong directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, not to give any money for food importation.

Speaking at the fifth regular meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council held on Tuesday at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari directed that the CBN “must not give money to import food. Already about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce.”

In taking note of the strides made in agricultural production following the program of diversification from over-reliance on oil instituted by his administration, President Buhari wondered where the country would have found itself by now in view of the devastating economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 if the country had not embraced agriculture.

“Going back to the land is the way out. We depend on petrol at the expense of agriculture. Now the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce at 1.5 million barrels a day as against a capacity to produce 2.3 million. At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high, compared to the Middle East production,” he said.

The President emphasized the place of agriculture in the efforts to restore the economy but agreed that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation in the country:

“We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the land. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches. We are back to the land now. We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and closed the borders. We would have been in trouble.”

The meeting, which was for a review of, and reflections on the global and domestic economy in the outgoing year, was attended by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Ministers of Finance and Humanitarian Affairs and agreed on a number of measures.

In specific terms, it noted the sharp deterioration in the international economic environment and its impact on Nigeria’s continuing but fragile economic recovery; that Nigeria’s economic growth continues to be constrained by obvious challenges including infrastructural deficiencies and limited resources for government financing. It emphasized the need to make the private sector of the economy the primary source of investment, rather than the government.

The meeting reviewed progress towards structural reforms in response to the economic crises, including the institution of the Economic Sustainability Plan, the changes in electricity tariff and fuel pricing regime, the partial re-opening of the Land Borders, the movement towards the unification of exchange rates and budgetary reforms through Finance Bill 2020 and 2021.

It agreed that to prepare the country for the challenges ahead, it is imperative to ensure Macroeconomic stability, create certainty, and re-build investor confidence in the economy. It emphasized the need to deepen structural reforms initiated by the administration as a basis for stimulating investments from domestic and international sources with a view to raising productivity in key sectors of the economy.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

December 29, 2020

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