2017 Budget: Nigeria will become less dependent on imported products – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the 2017 Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration was determined to ensure a departure from dependence on imported goods to locally made products.

The president gave the assurance while presenting the 2017 Appropriation Bill before the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said he would ensure a new era where Nigerians consumed locally made products.

“For many years we depended on oil for foreign exchange revenues. In the days of high oil prices, we did not save, we squandered.

“We wasted our large foreign exchange reserves to import nearly everything we consume.

“Our food, our clothing, our manufacturing inputs, our fuel and much more. In the past 18 months when we experienced low oil prices, we saw our foreign exchange earnings cut by about 60 per cent.

“Also, our reserves eroded and our consumption declined as we could not import to meet our needs.

“By importing nearly everything, we provide jobs for young men and women in the countries that produce what we import, while our own young people wander around jobless.

“By preferring imported goods, we ensure steady jobs for the nationals of other countries while our own farmers, manufacturers, engineers and marketers remain jobless.

“We will CHANGE our habits and we will CHANGE Nigeria,’’ he said.

According to him, his administration will work on growing, processing local food as well as refine petroleum products locally.

He added that small scale business men and women would be encouraged by creating enabling environment for their products to be patronised.

“We will patronise local entrepreneurs. We will promote the manufacturing powerhouses in Aba, Calabar, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Nnewi, Onitsha and Ota.

“From light manufacturing to cement production and petrochemicals, our objective is to make Nigeria a new manufacturing hub.

“Today, the demand of the urban consumer has presented an opportunity for the rural producer.

“Across the country, our farmers, traders and transporters are seeing a shift in their fortunes.

“Nigerians who preferred imported products are now consuming made in Nigeria products.

“From Argungu in Kebbi to Abakalaki in Ebonyi, rice farmers and millers are seeing their products move. We must replicate such success in other staples like wheat, sugar, soya, tomato and dairy products,’’ he said.

President Buhari stressed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Organised Private Sector and a handful of Nigerian commercial banks, had embarked on an ambitious private sector-led N600 billion programme.

He said the essence of the programme was to ensure self-sufficiency within three years.

The president called on all state governors to make land available to potential farmers for the programme.

“To achieve self-sufficiency in food and other products, a lot of work needs to be done across the various value chains.

“For agriculture, inputs must be available and affordable. In the past, basic inputs like the NPK fertiliser, were imported although key ingredients like urea and limestone are readily available locally.

“Our local blending plants have been abandoned. Jobs lost and families destroyed.

“I am pleased to announce today that on 2nd December 2016, Morocco and Nigeria signed an ambitious collaboration agreement to revive the abandoned Nigerian fertiliser blending plants.

“The agreement focuses on optimising local materials while only importing items that are not available locally.

“This programme has already commenced and we expect that in the first quarter of 2017, it will create thousands of jobs and save Nigeria 200 million dollars of foreign exchange and over N60 billion in subsidy.

President Buhari said the true drivers of the country’s economic future were farmers, small and medium sized manufacturers, agro-allied businesses, dressmakers, entertainers and technology start-ups.

According to him, they are the engine of imminent economic recovery, adding that their needs underpin the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

(NAN)

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