The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has expressed extreme dissatisfaction over the ban on Forex for food and fertilizer ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari had directed the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele to stop issuing Forex for fertilizer and food items importation saying companies that want to import food can source for Forex elsewhere.
“Nobody should be given money for food” Buhari said during the National Food Security Council Meeting in Abuja.
President Buhari banked his directive on the back of the creation of about 30 fertilizer plants in the country.
“From only three operating in the country, we have 33 fertilizer blending plants now working.
“We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import fertilizer. We will empower local producers.’’ The President said.
Just like 1984, Buhari blamed ‘middle-men cartels’ for the increase in food prices and ordered the fertilizer blenders to convey their products directly to the state government so that they can get paid properly.
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Manufacturers under MAN however faulted the directive saying it would add to the already growing rate of inflation in the country.
They reminded the President that Nigeria was not self sufficient in food production and needed Forex to import food.
According to the acting Director General of MAN, the directive given by President Buhari would lead to inflation as there would be no Forex to import basic items like flour and sugar. By implication Nigerians may soon begin to queue for these basic items just like in 1984 when Buhari was military President.
The MAN DG said further,
“You will see that the last inflation report that was released showed food inflation rate has gone up which shows there is no food sufficiency because what normally happens is if demand is more than the supply, the price of the product will go up.
“I don’t know where they got the statistics that we are food sufficient because food is not even generic, it has a lot of components.
“I don’t know whether we are sufficient in other products of foods like products like milk, I don’t know the statistics they are using, but we are not sufficient in food production.
“We still need wheat to produce flour, the cost of flour has gone up because we could not get forex to buy flour and the cost of sugar has gone up.
“We still need forex to import food and raw materials that will enable us to produce the finished goods that people can consume.”
The ambiguity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive leaves room for speculations as Nigeria’s supermarkets are filled with basic items which are not produced in the country.
The recent hike in petrol and electricity prices, the devaluation of the Naira and the closure of land borders, have added pressure to the economy.
The Insecurity in the Northeast and recent floods have also affected food security. 60 percent of the rice farms in the North were wiped out in the recent floods.