•PDP taunts rice pyramids launch
• President seeks confirmation of NCC, FJSC nominees
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged Nigerians to exercise a little patience, as the “growing food production in the country, especially expansion in rice farming, will eventually bring down prices of food, making it more affordable for all.”
Speaking yesterday, at the commissioning of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Paddy Pyramids in Abuja, the President stated that more than 4.8 million smallholder farmers had been supported by Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with an increase in production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock, across the federation.
He said: “Today, rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the average production in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015 was less than four million metric tons annually.
“I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria.
“Before this administration launched the ABP, there were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria. As at today, we have over 50 standard and integrated mice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment. We expect additional significant output when two new mills are started in Lagos and Katsina.”
Buhari explained that the large margins in the business of rice had also encouraged more people to invest in agribusiness.
He said the commissioning of the rice pyramids is an indication that the country was making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.
The President further noted that, about three years ago, the first set of sky-high pyramids of rice harvests were showcased in Argungu, Kebbi State, followed by another set in Minna, Niger State roughly a year ago and barely three months later in Zauro, Kebbi State, rice pyramids were, again, unveiled.
He said in May 2021, the CBN unveiled the first rice pyramids in the South West region, precisely in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
BUT the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, flayed the unveiling of bogus rice pyramids in Abuja, which it described as “pyramids of lies.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the main opposition party said the exercise was “another shameless media stunt to again beguile Nigerians ahead of 2023 elections.”
The PDP said: “Nigerians are already aware and the pictures abound of how the APC and its government “created fake pyramids of rice with sandbags and re-bagged rice stacked on pyramid-shaped wooden structures as busted in an APC-controlled state in the Southwest in 2018.”
IN another development, the Nigerian leader, yesterday, requested the Senate to confirm the nomination of Professor Mansur Auwalu Bindawa as Non-Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
In a letter dated January 10 and read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary, Buhari said the request was made pursuant to Section 8(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act.
In another correspondence dated January 4, the implored the upper legislative chamber to confirm the nominations of Nnamonso Ekanem (Akwa Ibom) and Mahmud Abubakar Magaji (Niger) as members of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
Ekanem and Magaji are billed to represent the South-South and North Central geopolitical zones.
He hinged his decision on Section 154 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).