Wednesday 24th May, 2017
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Nigerians are not starving - Ogbeh

Nigerians are not starving - Ogbeh

Three days after Nigeri­ans staged street protests across the country’s major cities against the hardship im­posed on them by the economic policies of the Federal Govern­ment, the Minister of Agricul­ture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said that they are not starving.
Ogbeh said on Wednesday af­ter the Federal Executive Coun­cil (FEC) that there is abundant food supply in the country, hence “there can't be any talk of starvation in Nigeria.”
According to the minister, “there is food everywhere but the prices are very high.”
The minister told journalists after the FEC that Council ap­proved some of the recommen­dations of the taskforce, includ­ing the removal of 20% tariff on greenhouse equipment to re­duce the cost of large scale pro­duction of tomatoes in the coun­try.
There is also the decision to restrict imports of fully pro­cessed tomato products into the country as well as dumping of other agro products’ imports in the country while food trucks criss-crossing the nation's roads are given easier passage without delays by law enforcement agen­cies.
Ogbeh said: "We identified the causes of food price increas­es. The good thing is that there is no real shortage of food. There is food but the prices are a bit too high and Nigerians are groaning under the pain.
"One of the things we found out is that the cost of transporta­tion is becoming extremely high, especially because most of our transportation is by road and diesel prices have gone up and trucks are finding it difficult to move from place to place at old prices.
"So, we considered the fol­lowing alternatives: using rail­way wagons along the current railway network. As we did before when we moved cat­tle from North West to Lagos, we brought down the cost and avoided the multiple taxation on transporters by local govern­ments which delays movement.
"We have decided to work with the state governments and the police to reduce delays. We are going to adapt what they have in Ivory Coast. Trucks car­rying foods are given labels. In fact, in Ivory Coast, they can­not be stopped for more than 10 minutes anywhere.
"Even if something serious has happened, the security agencies will follow them to their desti­nations and come back to inves­tigate whatever has happened.
"Finally, we shall be looking into our reserves if in the next few days, the situation persists, to see what we can bring out to lower the prices because anoth­er bumper harvest will be com­ing up again at the end of March.
"There is really no starvation in the land. The other factor is what you know already. There is a lot of pressure on Nigerian food from West, North and Cen­tral Africa. Our food production is very robust and we are doing pretty well," Ogbeh said,
Meanwhile, FEC has approved the reconstruction of Ilorin-Umuaron-Kabba-Egbe Road to link Kwara and Kogi States at the cost of N21 billion.
The Minister of Works, Pow­er and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said that the Council also approved N589 million consultancy services contract for social management plan to access Japanese loan to support electricity transmission in the country.
 

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