By Bode Gbadebo, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Monday, said that the abandoned Naira re-design policy carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the immediate-past Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, rendered Nigerian farmers bankrupt.
This is as federal lawmakers lamented that hunger and famine in the land were causing deaths of the poor in rural parts of the country.
The revelations came to the fore during the 2024 budget defence session hosted by the National Assembly Joint Committees on Agriculture and attended by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.
In his presentation before the joint committee chaired by Senator Saliu Mustapha (APC, Kwara Central), the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security said the focus of the 2024 budgetary proposals for the Ministry was to achieve food security in the country.
Kyari, however, noted that several factors like insecurity and the controversial Naira re-design policy of the CBN had impoverished the farmers and severely threatened food security in the country.
“The cash crunch caused by the Naira re-design made most of the farmers sold their farm produce at give-away price for survival since buyers couldn’t access cash to buy the produce from them.
“The policy which coincided with the harvest season ended (up) rendering the farmers empty financially,” the Minister said.
In their separate remarks at the session, two members of the Joint Committee – Hon. Dahiru Ismaila Haruna representing Toro federal constituency of Bauchi State and Hon. Ademorin Kuye from Shomolu federal constituency of Lagos State – raised the alarm on the urgent need by the federal government to address the high rate of hunger in the country largely caused by insecurity.
Hon. Haruna said: “Honourable Minister, being from the North-East, the picture I’m about to paint shouldn’t be strange to you at all.
“The pathetic picture of people dying of hunger on daily basis while majority of those surviving, feed once a day .
“Making it worrisome is the fact that even people from neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger Benin Republic and Central Aftrica, are trooping in to mop up the little food, signalling total famine in the area if not urgently addressed by stockpilling the silos.”
But, Hon. Kuye dismissed the idea of stockpilling the silos, telling the Minister that most of the silos built by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration were allegedly concessioned for N20million each .
The Minister, however, in his response assured the lawmakers that all issues raised were being addressed and would be decisively tackled in the 2024 fiscal year.
Kyari said food security is the number one out of the eight-point agenda of President Bola Tinubu administration and that the Ministry has repositioned itself for actualisation of the agenda.