The Presidency has dismissed claims that President Muhammadu Buhari has banned or restricted food importation into the country, a statement that has sparked a national debate.
In a letter to the Editor of Financial Times over its report entitled “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports”, 15th August 2019, on Sunday, presidency says the report is incorrect.
On Tuesday in Daura, Katsina state, Buhari had said he has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.
However, a statement by Garba Shehu, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Sunday disagreed with the interpretation of the Financial Times report over the matter.
The letter reads “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 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.” he stated