The confusion and lack of coordination between the Presidency and the Executive Council was put on display again yesterday when the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, came out to say that Nigeria is in no danger of a famine and that there was no cause for alarm.
Earlier in the week, the Senior Special Assistant to the President had said that Nigeria was in danger of a famine as early as January next year due to the sharp spike in export of the country’s grains to other countries. However, Lokpobiri during a visit to Diezengoff/Phinada Farms at Tafa, Niger State and Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), noted that the Federal Government had begun the process of buying enough grains and store for the rainy day.
“There are no statistics that there is going to be famine in January. What I heard in the news was that he (presidential aide, Shehu Garba) said that people are coming from other countries to buy our grains in bulk. As a government, we are also buying. Government doesn’t just come into the market to buy; government only buys to ensure guaranteed price so that our farmers are not discouraged by low patronage. Government has to buy because for now all our silos are virtually empty. We are part of a global community; it’s a free trade, we need dollars. We can’t, as a country, stop people from coming to Nigeria to buy grains,” Lokpobiri stated.
Given that the Ministry of Agriculture is expected to coordinate matters such as these, how did Shehu Garba come to his conclusion that the quantity of exports was becoming alarming to the extent of saying that the nation risked a famine. And if that is actually the case, is it not the prerogative of the Ministry of Agriculture to make this known. Why Shehu Garba? Now, his statements have been countered by those in charge. Who should we believe? When will Mr President’s appointees get things right and come out with a unified voice Nigerians can trust?