In spite of the massive rise in the price of rice from about N8,500 per 50 kilogramme bag in 2015 to roughly N45,000 per bag currently, the federal government yesterday said it has transformed rice production in the country in the last eight years.
Speaking on the state-owned Nigerian Television Authority, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stressed that whereas Nigeria was the number one importer of rice from Thailand in 2015, it is now about 67 on the list.
But the ‘feat’ appears to defy the law of demand and supply as prices of rice have skyrocketed by over 400 per cent between 2015 when the current administration took over and 2023.
The minister further argued that even if Nigerians do not agree that their lives have been improved by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, the government has changed the life of the average Nigerian citizen since 2015.
Also, Mohammed maintained that the power sector was at its lowest ebb when Buhari took over, but that the sector has now been reinvigorated because of government support. Nigeria currently struggles to produce between 3,500MW and 4,500MW daily despite government intervention of over N2 trillion.
“In fact when we came in, we were number one importer of rice from Thailand. Now, I think we are now number 67 or 68. Before we came in, there were less than two dozens rice mill all over Nigeria. Today, we have about 60 integrated rice mills.
“Are we going to talk about how many farmers we have empowered. Are we going to talk about food sufficiency?” he boasted.
Mohammed maintained that certain Nigerians have made up their minds never to see anything good in the Buhari administration, stressing that there’s no need trying to convince those individuals. “They have made up their mind to make the administration miserable every day, but we are moving ahead,” he added.
He pointed out that the federal government now has 20 per cent stakes in major refineries in Nigeria, something he said never happened in the past.” Given the timeframe, given the circumstances, we have more than met Nigerians’ expectations,” he added.
He stated that the government has also addressed the issue of insecurity, fought corruption and improved the economy.
According to him, the lives of Nigerians are better today than they were in 2015, contending that in 2015, the North-east was inaccessible while 20 out of 27 local councils had been taken over by insurgents in Borno state alone.
He pointed out that the health sector was comatose in the region because of the activities of Boko Haram, explaining that not even a single local government is being currently occupied by the insurgents.
Mohammed stressed that for the foresight of the federal government in rice production, the Covid-19 pandemic would have hit Nigeria worse than it did and would have caused massive hunger in the land.
“Today, we have so many millions of farmers who have been empowered. I also spoke about the social intervention programmes, about the conditional cash transfer, about the school feeding programme,” he said.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja