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Minister confirms duty-free policy as FG targets crash in food prices

Tinubu is caged, unaware of insecurity, food crises, says Ndume 

Two days after neither denying nor confirming the new measures to tackle high food prices by President Bola Tinubu, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, yesterday asserted to the new measures, making official government’s suspension of food import duty.
 
When the news broke on Monday, the ministry seemed unaware of the statement. While the minister was mentioned to have signed it, a ministry official had told The Guardian that the minister neither issued any statement nor addressed any news conference.
   
Presidential spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, had stated that the policy was mistakenly circulated, as they were still deliberating internally with the agric ministry and other agencies on how best to proceed with the policy, he apologised for the error, adding that the government was not oblivious to its potential impact on suffering Nigerians.
   
Kyari has been conspicuously absent from many official duties for a while, as he is often represented by the Minister of State, Sabi Abdullahi. The development left many stakeholders wondering if government is serious about tackling the food crisis bedeviling the country.
 
But in a tweet, yesterday, the minister stated: “Our administration has unveiled a series of strategic measures aimed at addressing high food prices affecting our nation. These measures will be implemented over the next 180 days. They include a 150-day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities, suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes on the importation of certain food commodities including maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas through land and sea borders, and subjection of imported food commodities to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).
 
“We understand concerns about the quality of these imports, especially regarding their genetic composition. The government assures that all standards will be maintained to ensure the safety and quality of food items. The Federal Government will import 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat and 250,000 metric tonnes of maize. These semi-processed commodities will be supplied to small-scale processors and millers.”

HOWEVER, Chief Whip of the Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume, has said President Bola Tinubu is unaware of the reality of food crisis as well as insecurity across the country because he is being caged by some forces in the presidency. 

Ndume claimed that those forces have effectively prevented the president from getting information from selfless Nigerians that would have helped in addressing the food and security challenges. He made the allegation on Wednesday while speaking with journalists at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
   
The Senate had on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to address the food crisis in the country and inform Nigerians immediately on appropriate measures being taken. Ndume stated that no significant steps have been taken in recent times to address the security challenge in the country.
   
He said: “Mr President isn’t in the picture of what is happening outside the Villa. He has been fenced off and caged. Some of us won’t go through the backdoor to engage him. Nigerians are getting very angry. The government is not doing anything about the food scarcity and it needs to do something urgently. We don’t have food reserve. There is unavailability of food. Food crisis is the worst crisis that any nation can encounter. If we add that to security crisis, it will be severe.” 

Authors

  • Azimazi Jimoh

  • Joke Falaju

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