The Presidency on Sunday denied reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had banned or restricted the importation of food into the country.
Naija News reports that Buhari had last week directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.
However, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated that Buhari’s statement was misconstrued as a blanket ban on importation of food.
This resulted in a report by the Financial Times, a London-based publication, titled: “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports.”
Reacting, the Presidency clarified that the president’s directive had to only do with forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Garba Shehu said: “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 CBN maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of domestic industry in 41 products 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.”