The Federal Government on Thursday said the pledge by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to reopen all Nigerian borders, if elected president, would cause food crisis and worsen insecurity in the country.
Atiku had, during his campaign in Katsina on Tuesday, promised to tackle the insecurity in the country and reopen all Nigerian borders if elected president in 2023.
But the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the 15th edition of the PMB Administration’s Scorecard Series (2015-2023), said Atiku’s pledge was a red flag to Nigerians who, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s admonition, had been striving to produce what they eat and eat what they produce.
He said out of desperation, “he (Atiku) is ready to worsen the security situation in Nigeria by throwing open all the borders and allowing a massive inflow of small arms and light weapons into the country. Only an inordinately-ambitious candidate will wish to return Nigeria to an era of massive importation of food, to the detriment of local farmers, and an era of unbridled inflow of weapons.
“By that statement, Alhaji Atiku has simply informed Nigerians that he will reverse all the efforts made by the PMB Administration to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of many staples, especially rice. By that statement, the former Vice President has informed thecountry’s millions of rice farmers that they will soon lose their jobs when imported rice floods the country.
“By that statement, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar has told the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians working in the various rice mills that have sprung up under this administration that their jobs are over. By that statement, Alhaji Atiku will shut down most, if not all, of our new fertilizer blending companies, with thousands of jobs going down the drain. And by his declaration, the former Vice President has told Nigerians that he will worsen security in the country by allowing arms and ammunition to flow unhindered into the country.”
He said Buhari’s administration had increased the number of fertilizer blending plants in Nigeria from 10 in 2015 to 142; the rice mills from 10 in 2015 to 80 integrated rice mills, adding that 10 large scale integrated rice mills are currently being built across the country.
The minister said while Nigeria was the number one export destination for rice in 2014, the country had now moved to number 79 according to Thai authorities.
He said opening the borders indiscriminately would return Nigeria to the number one importer of Thai rice in 2023.
He said, “It is now clear that in his desperation for power, the presidential candidate of the PDP will not hesitate to export Nigerian jobs, put millions of Nigerians out of job, and ruin the fertilizer companies and the rice mills that have grown exponentially in number since Nigeria shut its land borders in 2019 (with some of them later reopened) due to the smuggling of rice as well as arms and ammunition into the country.”