INTERNATIONAL - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has told the central bank to stop providing funding for food imports, his spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday, a move that has raised questions about the bank’s independence.
Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy, is the continent’s top oil producer and relies on crude sales for around 90 percent of it foreign exchange. Low oil prices led to a recession in 2016 from which the country emerged two years ago.
Since Buhari first took office in 2015, Nigeria’s central bank has presided over policies aimed at stimulating growth in the agricultural sector to reduce dependence on oil. Those policies included a 2015 ban on access to foreign exchange for 41 items that the bank felt could be produced in Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari ... disclosed that he has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country,” Tuesday’s statement said.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” Buhari said, according to the statement, which said that the call was in line with efforts to bring about a “steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security”.