The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the president, Garba Shehu, has said that measures taken, to help Nigeria’s ailing economy are already yielding positive results, particularly in agriculture.
The aide said this in Abuja on Sunday, that Nigeria imported 58,000 tons of rice from Thailand in 2015 as against 1.2 million tons in 2014.
He mentioned that due to the country’s growing rice production occasioned by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to deny foreign exchange for the importation of rice “parboiled rice mills’’ in some Asian countries were shutting down production.
According to him, this is because, Nigeria, which is one of the world’s largest importers of rice no longer, buys rice from them.
“Five of such mills in Thailand servicing Nigeria have stopped production due to the withdrawal of our patronage.”
According to Shehu, this administration is interested in the growing investment in rice milling by the private sector, government would continue to encourage the Ministry of Agriculture on such efforts through BUA Industries in Jigawa and Dangote in Kano, and government would also encourage OLAM and WACOTT in Nasarawa and Kebbi as well as a consortium of businessmen led by a former governor in Anambra.
Mr. Shehu also said, that the price of a bag of fertilizer is reduced from N9,000 per bag to N5,500.
“This country has about 32 fertilizer blending plants that have remained idle for many years, but that about half of that number is now in production with many of them running three shifts a day.”
The spokesman, said that the Buhari administration’s agricultural revolution was bringing about other socio-economic changes in the country and a recent survey done in two urban areas of Jigawa and Kiyawa showed that jobless young men were migrating from commercial motorcycle business known as, `achaba’, to farming.
“In Kiyawa, it takes a long wait to catch a commercial motor cycle because they are rapidly disappearing.
“The young men are moving to the farms. These are development issues in the country that our media should pay attention,” Shehu said.
Garba condemned the criticism of some government policies and programmes by elites saying, “because the elite don’t care for ordinary people, they are saying that government is doing nothing but we are doing a lot for ordinary people.
“They don’t want us to talk about the 14 solar power projects that have been licensed to boost electricity supply in the country; the Mambila power project which will soon leave the drawing board and the many Chinese projects including the standard gauge railway.
“This country has more important things to talk about instead of dwelling on trivialities,” Mr. Shehu said.