Former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should stop providing foreign exchange for food importation.
Buhari gave the directive on Tuesday in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
But reacting in tweets on her verified Twitter handle, Ezekwesili described Buhari as a “completely out-of-touch leader”
She said the President was “cocooned away in the grandeur of @AsoRock where they serve him delicatessen and praise-sing to him: “Ranka dede Sir, your Agriculture Policy is working wonderfully. All farmers in Nigeria are now Billionaires and exporting to the US”
Part of the tweets read, “@MBuhari has absolute contempt for Data but we shall go ahead and put out here some of the Knowledge he should have had before making this latest blunder of ‘Directing’ what should be an independent @cenbank to ‘not give a cent for food import'”.
According to Ezekwesili, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS), which provides information and analysis on food insecurity around the world, has not shown in their report, from June 2018 uptill January 2019, that Nigeria has achieved food security.
She therefore said that for President Buhari to think the country has achieved food security “says a lot about his policy-making”.
She wrote, “Humanitarian actors have provided sustained food assistance delivery in 2018, reaching 2.5 million people in April 2018 across the three northeast states. In May, food assistance deliveries reached 15 percent fewer households, meeting targets closer to what was seen in March 2017
“With the continuing military offensive, new arrivals continue to be identified in the northeast. As of May, IOM identified 1.8 million people displaced by conflict in northeast Nigeria. Between late Nov2017 &April 2018 an estimated 100,000 new arrivals across Borno & Adamawa…
“Outside northeast, the main agric season is progressing favorably in much of the rest of the country, &harvests are expected to be average to above-average. Most households will have seasonally typical access to food,income& remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity”
“Various stages of cultivation activities continue throughout the country. In south and some central areas, they have begun harvesting early green maize and tubers. In other areas of central Nigeria, planting, weeding, and fertilizer application for maize, sorghum &legumes is underway.”
She added, “Planting of staples such as millet, sorghum, and maize, as well as groundnut, cowpea, and sesame cash crops, is progressing in most northern areas. Government support through the Anchor Borrowers’ Program continues to contribute to farmers’ access to improved inputs.
“However, areas worst-affected by farmer/pastoralist conflict are facing greater difficulty accessing basic needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
”In displaced settlement areas and larger cities, affected populations have restricted access to land for cultivation. Additionally, ongoing insecurity is again in 2018 keeping many from engaging or participating fully in cultivation.
“Heavy conflict between pastoral and farming communities in central and northern areas of the country also continue. These conflicts have left hundreds dead and lead to the destruction of property.
”These conflicts are also leading to the displacement of households and keeping many from their livelihoods. Both cultivation activities and pastoralists’ herd movements are affected.
“Main agricultural season: The agricultural season is expected to progress normally. The main season harvests will start normally in September/October across the country. Harvests are expected to be average to above average in most areas.”
“Main harvests will be substantially below average in the northeast and likely below average in areas impacted by the farmer/pastoralists conflict mainly in the central states such as Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba as well as in Zamfara.
”As with most years, it is also likely that there will be some crop loss due to excessive flooding along major floodplains.
“I have put out highlights of FEWS Net Report on Nigeria up to January 2019. As obvious from the Report, there are positives on Agriculture which for example include improved farmers’ access to input from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
But, nothing of Food Security yet exist.”