Image: President M Buhari and Atiku
ABUJA – Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar has faulted claims by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that it has succeeded in reducing the importation of rice by as much as 90 per cent.
The former Vice President said information in public domain shows that the country is actually importing more metric tonnes of rice today more than it did last year.
In a statement by the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization, APCO, he chided Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh accusing him of making phoney claims about the nation’s steady March to food security.
“On several occasions, the Buhari administration has bragged that their biggest achievement is reducing Nigeria’s dependence on foreign rice. Recently, President Buhari himself made this boast when he said to British Prime Minister, Theresa May on April 16, 2018 as follows:
‘We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment. People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security,’ even as it quoted Ogbeh on May 2, 2018 as saying:
‘Unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent. It has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone”.
“However, recently released data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Markets and Trade Report has proven these claims by President Buhari and his government to be false.
“According to the World Markets and Trade Report of the USDA, which is a public document, Nigeria imported three million metric tonnes of rice in 2018, which is 400,000 metric tonnes more than the quantity of the product imported in 2017.
“It does not end there! The report shows that there has actually been a steep drop in commercial rice production from its 2015 peak under the previous Peoples Democratic Party administration.
Atiku said according to the report, “Nigeria has consistently milled 3,780,000 metric tonnes annually – a drop from 3,941,000 metric tonnes recorded in 2015.”
He called on the APC- led administration to be truthful to Nigerians, rather than peddling speculations to curry the votes of the electorate in the 2019 elections.