Nigeria’s federal government has said former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar‘s statement that he would reopen all Nigerian borders if elected president would aggravate insecurity in the country.
But the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has dismissed the argument as lacking logic, because the federal government currently operates open border policy except it was agreeing to the fact that the idea was responsible for the current insecurity in the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, launched the broadside on Atiku on Thursday at ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’ in Abuja.
He said the declaration made in Katsina on Tuesday by Atiku would allow influx of arms and ammunition into the country, adding that the “unfortunate comment” portended job losses for millions of rice farmers, when imported rice floods the country.
He added the statement that emanated during the campaign trail also implied to the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians working in the various rice mills that had sprung up under the Buhari administration will be laid off.
“By that statement, Alhaji Atiku has simply informed Nigerians that he will reverse all the efforts made by the PMB administration to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of many staples, especially, rice. By that statement, the former vice-president has informed the country’s millions of rice farmers that they will soon lose their jobs when imported rice floods the country.
“By that statement, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, has told the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians working in the various rice mills that have sprung up under this administration that their jobs are over.
“By that statement, Alhaji Atiku will shut down most, if not all, of our new fertilizer blending companies, with thousands of jobs going down the drain. And 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 unhindered into the country,” Mohammed said.
But responding, spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “Can we then take it that since the borders are currently opened that all the allegations that he made are reflected in the Nigerian situation today? Is that what he’s saying? Because the borders are open as you and I are talking.
“But I also know that in spite of the opening of the borders that the cost of local rice is different from the cost of the imported rice. Imported rice sells for between 40,000 and 50,000 (Naira) or above, while locally milled rice sells between 30,000 and 40,000. So, that same differential pooh-poohs the argument and contemplation of Alhaji Lai Mohammed.”
On the claim that Atiku’s plan would increase insecurity in the country, Ologbondiyan said, “Alhaji Lai Mohammed is an old man. I know his proclivities, I know why he tries to come out always to come and engage with Atiku. He’s doing all that in order to be seen to be working for the failed ambition of his friend, Bola Tinubu.
“Atiku Abubakar is never going to be drawn into that arena, because Atiku is speaking to Nigerians; he’s addressing the challenges of Nigeria and realistically, Nigerians are agreeing with him that he’s responding to their needs, to their desires.
“So, we are not going to allow any form of distraction from liar Mohammed. You had eight years to speak to Nigerians on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari. He failed woefully in delivering on that.”
Chuks Okocha and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja