THE priority of my administration is to ensure national food security before export of food products, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday while contributing to a Presidential Panel Roundtable on Investment and Growth Opportunities at the opening session of Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Buhari stressed that Nigeria, being a mono-economy dependent on oil, and with a teeming unemployed youth population, the way out of the current slump in the global oil market, is for the administration to focus on agriculture and solid minerals development.
“The land is there and we need machinery inputs, fertilizer and insecticides”, he said.
Reiterating his opposition to the devaluation of the naira, Buhari said Nigeria could not compete with developed countries which produce to compete among themselves and could afford to devalue their local currencies.
“Developed countries are competing among themselves and when they devalue they compete better and manufacture and export more.
“But we are not competing and exporting but importing everything including toothpicks. So, why should we devalue our currency?” the President retorted.
According to him, “we want to be more productive and self-sufficient in food and other basic things such as clothing. For our government, we like to encourage local production and efficiency.”
He added that those who had developed taste for foreign luxury goods should continue to pay for them rather than pressure government to devalue the naira.
The President, who expressed optimism that Nigeria would get out of its current economic downturn, noted that another major problem militating against economic revival is the huge resources deployed toward fighting insurgency and terrorism.
He, however, commended the support being received from the international community in the administration’s fight against terrorism as well as cooperation in tracing looted funds stashed away in foreign countries.
Responding to a question on his performance since he assumed office, the President said his administration had been quite focused on securing the country, reviving the economy and stamping out corruption.
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“The message on corruption has been driven home vividly and Nigerians are very acceptable to the message.”
According to him, those accused of stealing public funds are cooperating by voluntarily providing useful information while investigations and prosecutions are ongoing.
In his opening address at the Forum, Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said Africa needs to concentrate on transforming into knowledge societies using innovation and research.
The President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, in his message to the event, said: “Africa must think big, act big and develop big.”
The Presidents of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia also participated at the Roundtable.
Before departing Egypt, Buhari and his Egyptian counterpart had a bilateral discussion on security, military cooperation, agriculture and solid minerals development.