By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed that his administration’s agricultural revolution has led to the creation of over 13 million direct and indirect jobs in the last seven and half years, insisting that Nigeria is self-sufficient in rice production, thanks to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Nigerian leader made these remarks last Friday in Washington D.C. at an interactive session entitled, A conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, co-hosted by the United State Institute of Peace (USIP), the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
He used the occasion to advise Western nations again not to be in a rush to eliminate the usage of fossil fuels in a bid to ensure a healthy climate.
Further, he said Nigeria’s economy had registered positive growth in the last two quarters despite the gloomy outlook in the global economy and the war in Ukraine.
President Buhari also cautioned Western nations on the frivolous issuance of travel advisories on Nigeria, urging the international media to be more objective in its reportage of the country.
He told the international community that despite the non-nonchalant actions and attitudes of some of the country’s friends and allies, Nigeria is nonetheless winning the war on terrorism, making significant progress in dealing with the threats to Nigeria’s and the sub-regions safety and survival.
The Nigerian leader also called on the United States to do more to improve the quality of governance in the West African sub-region, warning that the survival of democracy is being challenged in the aftermath of the democratic set-backs witnessed in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.
Expounding on steps taken by his administration to expand Nigeria’s economy since coming into power in 2015, the President said focused interventions in agriculture, driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), transitioned the country from being a net importer of rice, Nigeria’s staple food, to becoming self-sufficient in its production.
‘‘This same scheme has financed the establishment and operations of our 50 integrated rice mills.
‘‘It has also financed over 4.5 million smallholder farmers, ensured the cultivation of almost 6 million hectares of farmland, and almost 700 large-scale agricultural projects have been funded.
‘‘This agricultural revolution has led to the creation of over 13 million direct and indirect jobs,” he said.
President Buhari also told the Washington D.C Community of global thought leaders and Democracy Advocacy Groups that the focus on the Agricultural Sector placed Nigeria in a better position to handle the systemic shock caused by both COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supply chains and attendant price spikes.
He added that the revolution in the sector had improved the country’s capacity in the agro-allied sector, making it more efficient in enhancing and maximizing production yields and post-harvest losses.
‘‘The non-oil sector remains the future of our economy, and I hope successive governments will consolidate on the gains we have recorded under my leadership.
‘‘You will agree with me that the Russia-Ukraine war has compelled many economies to carry out reforms and re-adjust policies to cope with the challenges posed by the conflict.
‘‘In this regard, we are paying more attention now to energy transmission and distribution through targeted collaboration with global companies like Siemens to improve our efficiency in the Power Value Chain,’’ he said.
Business Post reports that despite Mr Buhari’s insistence that the country was self-sufficient in rice production, the price of the product at the local market has gone above the ceiling. The price of a 50kg bag of rice is sold between N45,000 and N48,000, depending on the brand. In 2015, before he assumed office, the price was between N8,000 and N11,000.