President Muhammadu Buhari has reflected on the country’s deepening economic crisis, particularly food scarcity, blaming floods for sabotaging his administration’s food production efforts.
Mr Buhari stated that his administration is working hard to alleviate food inflation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that agricultural efforts in the country have been impeded by floods.
The President’s Spokesman Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said Buhari stated this in his Eid-el-Kabir message to Nigerians.
Eid-el-Kabir is a Muslim festival being celebrated across the world. July 20 and 21 have been declared as holiday to celebrate the event in Nigeria.
In his message, the president restated the determination of his administration to create a just, harmonious and prosperous country in which the safety of life and property is assured.
He said “COVID-19 pandemic had taken a heavy toll on the economies of all countries, including Nigeria” while bemoaning the challenges of Nigerians.
He added that floods had caused large-scale destruction to agricultural farmlands, thereby “impacting negatively on our efforts to boost local production in line with our policy to drastically reduce food importation.
“No government in our recent history has invested as heavily as we are doing to promote local production of about 20 other commodities, through the provision of loans and several other forms of support to our farmers.”
Mr Buhari however noted that apart from the destruction caused to rice farms by floods, middlemen had also taken advantage of the local rice production to exploit fellow Nigerians.
According to him, this has further undermined the government’s efforts of supporting local food production at affordable prices.
“As an elected president who enjoys the goodwill of the ordinary people that gave us their mandate, let me assure you that we are continuing with measures to bring relief to Nigerians, including making fertiliser available at affordable prices to our farmers,” he added.
The president also noted that the current insecurity in the country “has produced severe and adverse effects on agriculture because farmers are prevented from accessing their farms by bandits and terrorists”.
Mr Buhari reassured Nigerians that his administration had taken measures to address the nation’s security challenges.
“We have started taking delivery of fighter aircraft and other necessary military equipment and hardware to improve the capacity of our security forces to confront terrorism and banditry,” he said.
On the significance of the Eid-el-Fitr celebration, the president appealed to Muslims to demonstrate the good virtues of Islam through personal examples and practices.