LAGOS, Jan. 1 – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday announced that the country would stop importation of rice from 2018, to encourage the production of local rice.
The president, who said this in his address to the nation in Abuja to mark the beginning of 2018, said it is in view of this reality that in 2015 he appealed to people to go back to the land.
Buhari said Nigerians must get used to discipline and direction in economic management as the days of business as usual are numbered.
“I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy,” he said.
“Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious rice will be on our dishes from now on,” he said.
“By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas, not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector,” the Nigerian leader said.
According to him, great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate, noting that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was slowly stabilizing the economy.
The president told the country that the diversification efforts embarked upon by the government had resulted in improved output, particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors.
He also maintained that the relative exchange rate stability had improved manufacturing sector performance.
The Nigerian leader, however expressed sadness over the unnecessary hardships inflicted on Nigerians during the Christmas and New Year celebrations following acute petrol scarcity across the country.
The president attributed the hardships to the activities of a few but heartless individuals working within the nation’s oil and gas sector.
He reiterated the determination of his administration to get to the root of the persistent petrol scarcity, and ensure that whichever groups were behind this manipulated hardship would be prevented from doing so again.
President Buhari added that the activities of such unpatriotic individuals would not divert his administration’s determination to uplift the quality of life of the citizens.
Fuel scarcity during festive periods is a recurrent feature in Nigeria, although it disappeared in the last two years.
The scarcity is said to be caused by greedy marketers who tried to take undue advantage of the high inter-state movements during the season.
(Copyright Xinhua via National News Agency, 2018)