By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
The Federal Government has accused the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of plans to return the country to its old days of aggravated insecurity and youth unemployment.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the allegation, yesterday, at the 15th Scorecard Series of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, was reacting to a statement credited to Atiku during his campaign tour of Katsina State on Tuesday that he would reopen all Nigerian borders if elected president in 2023.
The minister said by that statement, PDP has informed Nigerians that it would reverse all efforts made by Buhari’s government towards achieving self-sufficiency in production of many staples, especially rice.
He said: “By that statement, the former Vice President has informed the country’s millions of rice farmers that they will soon lose their jobs when imported rice floods the country.
“By that statement, Atiku 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 fertiliser blending companies, with thousands of jobs going down the drain.
“And by his declaration, the former Vice President has told Nigerians that he would worsen security by allowing arms and ammunition to flow unhindered into the country.”
Mohammed added: “In case Atiku Abubakar is not aware, the Buhari administration has increased the number of fertiliser blending plants in the country from 10 in 2015 to 142 today; the rice mills in the country, from 10 in 2015 to 80 integrated rice mills today. Also, 10 large-scale integrated rice mills are currently being built across the country.
“Atiku Abubakar may also want to know that while Nigeria was the number one export destination for rice in 2014, our country has now moved to number 79, according to Thai authorities. By throwing open the borders indiscriminately, as he has pledged, Alhaji
Atiku Abubakar has simply announced that he intends to return Nigeria to the number one importer of Thai rice in 2023.
“It is now clear that in his desperation for power, the presidential candidate of PDP will not hesitate to export Nigerian jobs, put millions of Nigerians out of job, and ruin the fertiliser 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.”
Source: The Guardian