The Director-General, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawole, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for food importation is fake and immeasurable.
According to him, although the president meant well in giving the directive, it is ill-timed and not very favourable to most Nigerians.
“What they have thrown on the table is fake, it’s not specific, it’s not measurable and that makes it difficult for Nigerians to really be extremely hopeful that yes there will be light at the end of the tunnel,” he said on Friday during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.
Olawole also believes that the country is yet to attain the level of food sufficiency that would allow such directive to thrive.
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He further explained that there is no clear definition of what types of food would be banned.
“There was no clear cut definition of what it meant by food. Is it processed food? are they food that serves as faders into our industries or factories or production processes which will affect the capacity of this production processes? Are they foods that are in their raw forms that are consumed by the generality of Nigerians?
“Because each category has its own implication. So overall, because of the aim or the objective that he intends to achieve which was according to his statement, to conserve foreign exchange makes sense, it’s laudable.
“However, you don’t just jump into the implementation of such policy without sitting down and doing due diligence: Is it the right time to do this? Is it going to rupture or destroy other policies? Is it even going to cause more problems than the one you are trying to solve?,” he questioned.
The NECA boss also pointed out the problem of proper implementation.
According to the president, “the problem with Nigeria is not the issue of policy or plans, the problem is with implementation.
“They go out there, make fantastic statements, they say the right things but down the line when you look back after several months or years… as a matter of fact even all they said they are going to do, there are no timelines”.
Mr Olawole’s comments come three days after President Buhari issued the directive.
According to him, it was important considering the “steady improvement” in agricultural production and attainment of “full food security” in Nigeria.
He, however, noted that the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.