President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed some fraudulent activities that his administration discovered in the food import bills presented to the government.

He accused the elite in Nigeria of taking advantage of the porous nature of the sector to manipulate the system, making as much as 50% of the import bills fraudulent.

The president reveled his fraud discovery when he took over office from President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 at a meeting with a delegation of the All Progressives Congress from Kebbi State, led by the State Governor, Mr Atiku Bagudu.

Buhari, who disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointed out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices" by some elite to deplete the foreign reserves.

He said: "When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 per barrel for many years and production was 2.1 billion barrels per day, I did not believe them.

"I did not believe them because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown. It turned out that 50% of the import bills were fraudulent, courtesy of the Nigerian elite.

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“Unfortunately, we will not know all that happened because the elite worked in collusion with institutions in developed countries like insurance firms, shipping companies and other financial outfits, to perpetuate the fraud".

At the meeting held on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari reiterated his administration’s determination to continually review and strengthen ongoing reforms in the agriculture sector "until Nigeria regains its pride of place as food exporting country".

rice pyramid in kebbi state
A rice pyramid in Kebbi State
 

He added that the country’s rice import bill had dropped significantly, noting, however, that “beyond self-sufficiency, Nigeria must strive to become net exporter of food commodities.

“We are not doing badly in the agriculture sector: Nigerians and indeed the world, are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will work harder until we start exporting food.

“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country have gone down by over 90 per cent, and everyone can see how productive states like Kebbi turned out to be and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example,” president Buhari stated.

According to him, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto States have already reported remarkable turn-around in the agriculture sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.

On security, President Buhari said the return of farmers to their farm lands in the North East, with glaring results of high yields, was a testimony to the relative peace that had been achieved.

He assured the delegation that more would be done to check the mayhem of suicide attacks.

Also Read: See Local Rice Pyramids In Kebbi

The President said his administration would put in more effort to reposition the education and health sectors to compete with other global institutions.

The Kebbi Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, said “the state government and the APC family were pleased with the performance of Federal Government in securing the country, reviving the economy and fighting corruption”.

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