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Independence Day: Buhari blames rising food prices on activities of middlemen

..directs agric Ministry to revive food reserve ...says Nigeria facing worst challenges in history, calls for dialogue ..." Nigeria's unity non negotiable," vows to deal with agitators .....Vows to employ more youths in governance ..more modular refineries underway

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the prices of food commodities have continued to increase in Nigeria due to the activities of selfish middlemen.

According to President Buhari, Nigeria’s food production capacity has increased, but middlemen are creating artificial shortages by buying and hoarding essential commodities for profiteering.

President Buhari said this in his speech to mark Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary celebration at the Eagle Square in Abuja on Friday.

Buhari, while describing the situation as unfortunate, therefore directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency and also work with security agencies, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to the “disruptive and unpatriotic hoarding activities.”

Buhari stressed that the agricultural sector remains key to Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts, noting that the sector has been a consistent driver of the non-oil sector contributing 22.35 percent and 23.78 percent to the overall GDP in the first and second quarter of 2021.

To further enhance food production, and attain food security, Buhari said his administration have completed several new dams and are in the process of rehabilitating several River Basin Development Authorities to enhance ground water supply for rainfed agriculture as well as surface water for irrigation agriculture.

Read Also: Food policy: Buhari puts ideology above evidence and rationality

The President further informed that his administration is working to scale up local production across other critical areas of the economy such as the petroleum sector, health among others, in order to reduce reliance on importation.

He said the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 is the first step to the reforms to overhaul the Institutional, regulatory and fiscal framework of the Petroleum Industry. Je added that Nigeria’s Roadmap on local refining is on track with the Commissioning of a modular refinery in Imo State.

Buhari informed that a second modular refinery is scheduled for commissioning by the end of this year in Edo State and the third one in Bayelsa State by 2022.

“In addition to the modular projects, we also have the two mega refinery projects coming up in Lagos and Akwa Ibom States

“As these refineries are commissioned, more employment opportunities are created and there would be increased petroleum products available for local consumption which will significantly reduce our reliance on importation”, the President said.

Read Also: Six years after, food security still in limbo

He, however, regretted that the sea ports still remain problematic, as effect of various interventions to reduce the gridlocks and inefficiencies have been slower than expected.

“However, the implementation of the Electronic Call-Up System as well as the conversion of the Lillypond Container Terminal to a Vehicle Transit Area will further enhance the ease of cargo evacuation”, he said.

“This is just the beginning. I am proud to announce Nigeria has commenced its journey to pharmaceutical independence”, he further said.

He assured that government will invest more to support pharmaceutical and research agencies for local production of vaccines.

“Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme”, Buhari added.

President Buhari assured that his goal of lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is achievable.

He also vowed to expand the opportunities for the participation of youths in politics and governance.

“Recent appointments of young people into positions of authority and their track record so far, gives me confidence that we need to bring more of them into governance and this I promise to do”, he said.

The President, earlier admitted that Nigeria is facing the worst challenges since 1999 when the country transitioned democracy, but urged citizens to
maintain the spirit of 1st October in order to remain a united and indivisible nation.

He said, “Today should not only serve as a reminder of the day the British handed over the reins of power to Nigerians, but also unified Nigerians from all ethnic groups, religions and regions.

“Today, despite the challenges we face, most Nigerians still maintain the spirit of 1st October. That positive outlook and determination to make Nigeria a peaceful and prosperous nation. It is due to this collective attitude that Nigeria doggedly continues to remain a united and indivisible nation.

“Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period.

“I will therefore take this opportunity, on this special day that symbolises the unity and oneness of our great nation, to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances.”

The President stressed that Nigeria’s unity is non negotiable and vowed to deal decisively with all agitators and perpetrators of violence especially through inciting comments.

He said his government will continue to work on dialogue based solutions to address legitimate grievances.

“But we remain ready to take decisive actions against secessionist agitators and their sponsors who threaten our national security,” he warned.

On insecurity , Buhari said the Military and security agencies have made tremendous progress in addressing the new security challenges and are winning the war.

He added that efforts are ongoing to fish out terrorist financiers on Nigeria who he noted are leaders of Nigeria.

“The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals. We are vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly,” Buhari said.

He added, “In particular, security is a bottom to top undertaking. Joining hands and hearts together would enable us to secure ourselves and our country.

“I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians on the inability of this country to go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one. We shall continue to serve the country: listen to all and protect our democracy and country. “

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