N1.5tr yearly food import bill unacceptable, says govt
The Federal Government yesterday said that the N1.5 trillion yearly food import bill is unacceptable and unfortunate.
Minister of State for Solid Minerals Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, who stated this yesterday at a workshop organized by the Non-Oil Monitoring Committee (NOMC) in Abuja, said, “As you know, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to focus attention on two major sectors: agriculture and solid minerals.
“By some estimate, Nigeria spends over N1.5 trillion annually on food importation, which puts heavy pressure on our foreign exchange. We therefore, need to take full advantage of our agriculture potentials in order to preserve our dwindling resources, while enriching our local farmers,” said Bawa Bwari.
The minister said for government to succeed in developing the solid mineral sector, the administration hopes to formalise the activities of all artisanal miners, repair moribund infrastructure, provide more respectable geosciences data, engage with foreign and domestic partners, work on an integrated road map that emerges from a broad consultation process and enter into strategic partnership with governors and other colleagues at the Federal Executive Council.
Speaking in a similar vein, Acting Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Shetima Umar Abba Gana expressed the belief that the urgent diversification of the nation’s economy from oil to agriculture and the solid mineral will boost the country’s foreign earnings capable of fast-tracking rapid economy growth.
Umar Abba Gana stated, “I can say this with a degree of certainty owing to the fact that the solid minerals sector contributed N12 billion revenue into the Federation Account for the first time with 13 percent derivation paid to the states in 2015.”
According to the RMAFC chief, long before the oil price fell in the international market, the commission had expressed concern over the country’s continued dependence on oil revenue and harped on the need to expand the revenue base of the nation by aggressively exploiting the enormous resources Nigeria is endowed with such as agriculture, solid minerals, tourism and manufacturing.
“As a result, the commission in 2012 organized advocacy and mass mobilization campaign on economic diversification for enhanced revenue generation and sustainable development in the six geo-political zones of the federation, where stakeholders across the country were adequately enlightened on the potential and relevance of the non-oil sector especially, the solid mineral sector.”