By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – Alhaji Mustapha Baba-Shehuri, the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, says Nigerians would benefit from the border closure policy adopted by the Federal Government.
Baba-Shehuri said this while fielding questions from newsmen on Saturday in Maiduguri.
He described the measure as a right decision that would be of great benefits to Nigerians in view of its positive impacts on social and economic development of the country.
The minister noted that Nigeria as a country could not continue to rely on importation of food commodities to feed its estimated 200 million population.
The minister added that the measure would boost local production and create jobs for more youths and women in the country.
According to him, available statistics indicates that Nigeria consumes 30 per cent of the 100 per cent total food importation in Africa, while over 50 per cent of the food importation to Cameroun, Ghana, Benin, Chad and Niger Republics, targeted Nigerian markets.
Baba-Shehuri said,“We are a nation of 200 million people; there is no nation on earth with the size of our population or even less that rely on importing everything that it will eat, it is absolutely impossible.
“In this country, we even import tomato, cabbage, eggs and everything that we eat.
“We need to ask ourselves for how long can our economy sustain it and what is our focus as a people?
“We have a population of about 80 million youths but we keep creating jobs elsewhere.
“We have very energetic, patriotic, able, physically and mentally fit youth who are
ready to put in their best for the development of the country.
“The youth were denied the opportunity because as leaders we lost focus and certain decisions are not taken, it cannot continue this way,” the minister said.
Baba-Shehuri emphasised the need for Nigerians to understand the motive behind government’s decisions, adding that the measure was for the interest of the country.
The minister, however, pointed out that the Federal Government had adopted viable programmes geared toward creating jobs through effective utilisation of agricultural resources.
He added that the programmes would focus at reinvigorating agriculture, encourage productions for self-sufficiency, value addition and enhance farmer enterprising skills as well as create market and promote export.
Baba-Shehuri called on Nigerians to support government’s policies and programmes for sustainable social and economic development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister inaugurated the maiden Northeast Farmer Help Line Center in Maiduguri as part of his two-day working visit to Borno.
The minister had also visited the Lake Chad Research Institute, and the temporary site of the Federal College of Freshwater and Fishery Technology, Baga.
He also visited Maiduguri GSM market where he donated N5 million to the victims of the recent fire incident in the market.