The Federal Government says the promise by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to reopen all Nigerian borders if elected as president will return the country to an era of unbridled inflow of weapons and massive importation of food to the detriment of local farmers.
Atiku, a former Vice President, made the pledge during his campaign rally in Katsina State on Tuesday.
Reacting to the development, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said Atiku’s pledge, if implemented, would put millions of Nigerians out of job as well as ruin the fertiliser companies and the rice mills that had grown exponentially since Nigeria shut its land borders in 2019.
Mohammed stated that the planned policy by the PDP presidential flag-bearer would worsen the security situation in Nigeria by throwing open all the borders and allowing massive inflow of small arms and light weapons into the country.
The minister said by the statement, Atiku had informed Nigerians that he would reverse all the efforts made by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of many staples, especially rice.
He added that millions of rice farmers would lose their jobs when imported rice floods the country while hundreds of thousands of Nigerians working in the various rice mills established under Buhari’s administration would also be jobless.
“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.
“Also, 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 in unhindered into the country,” Mohammed stressed.
The minister said President Buhari’s administration has increased the number of fertiliser blending plants in the country from 10 in 2015 to 142 presently and the rice mills in the country from 10 in 2015 to 80 integrated rice mills.
He added that 10 large scale integrated rice mills were currently being built across the country.
“His Excellency, 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.
“For sheer expediency, Alhaji Atiku, a former Customs Officer who rose to the pinnacle of his career, is ready to erase the gains made since 2015 in pushing Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in the production of staples,” he said.
Mohammed stated that the promise by Atiku was a red flag to Nigerians who, in line with the admonition of President Buhari, have been striving to “produce what they eat and eat what they produce”.