By Oluwakemi Ishola
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said the Federal Government stopped food importation to boost agriculture and save Nigerians from joblessness. He stressed that practicing agriculture locally is vital in boosting productivity, reducing joblessness, and poverty in the country.
“For us to bounce back to productivity, especially in agriculture, the unemployed with many of them uneducated had to be persuaded to go into agriculture.
‘‘If we hadn’t gone back to the lands we would have been in trouble by now. That is why we virtually stopped the importation of food thereby saving jobs and foreign exchange,” the President said.
President Buhari disclosed this during a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja.
The president also justified the government’s borrowing to finance infrastructure, asserting that his government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure.
“We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail, and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,’’ the President said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami.
He regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.
On the issue of the economy, President Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of the government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the more you earn,” he said.
The President also broached the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent government policies as they relate to energy (electricity) and fuel.
He said the Federal Government took such decisions because it places the country above politics.