By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari, in the week under review, has directed key government and security agencies to find lasting solution to the disruptive and unpatriotic activities of middlemen and hoarders of food items.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the president’s directive contained in Friday’s broadcast to mark Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary, was aimed at crashing the prices of food items and subsequently reducing the hardships being faced by citizens.
He also directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to work with the Nigerian Commodity Exchange and the National Assembly to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency to boost food production and address artificial food shortages created by the middlemen.
The president expressed regrets that despite significant private sector investments in almost all areas of the agricultural value-chain, food prices had continued to soar.
“The agricultural sector remains key to our economic diversification efforts as the sector has been a consistent driver of the non-oil sector, contributing 22.35 per cent and 23.78 per cent to overall GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021.
The president’s broadcast also touched on the efforts of his administration’s resolve to ensure peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic groups, security, transportation, agriculture as well as ongoing transformation programmes of the Federal Government, among others.
“We have seen significant private sector investments in almost all areas of the agricultural value-chain and these have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, as our food production capacity has increased, food prices have been going up, due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and hoarding these essential commodities for profiteering.
“To address this, I am hereby directing the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency and also work with security agencies, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to these disruptive and unpatriotic hoarding activities,’’ he said.
Also on Oct. 1, Buhari presided over Nigeria’s 61st Independence Celebration with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Head of State retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar as well as former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, in attendance.
NAN reports that former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko, cabinet members and other personalities also attended the colourful event.
The event witnessed by service and security chiefs and members of the diplomatic corps at the Eagle Square, Abuja, was held strictly in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.
NAN observed that the event also witnessed colours’ patrol by the armed forces, while the Guards Brigade put up a special performance of parade to the admiration of the audience.
NAN reports that guests and members of the public were thrilled with contemporary acrobatic displays by cultural troupes from the six geo-political zones, representing various ethnic groups in the country.
Buhari, who returned to Abuja after a loaded weeklong engagements at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America on Sept. 26, had earlier observed the COVID-19 protocol by isolating himself for the mandatory period.
The Nigerian leader had on Sept. 28 congratulated the D’Tigress, Nigeria’s senior women basketball team, on their victory at the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Women’s Championship in Cameroon.
Nigeria beat Mali 70-59 in the final match of the 2021 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket on Sunday in Yaounde, Cameroon, to retain the title.
The win was for the third straight time.
On Sept. 28, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo represented the president at the official inauguration of the Special Protection Unit (SPU) Base 6 Barracks of the Nigerian Police, at Omagwa, in Rivers.
Buhari restated his administration’s commitment to provide various platforms for all the security agencies in the fight against terrorism, banditry, and all forms of criminality in line with ongoing reforms of the Police and efforts towards improving the nation’s security architecture.
He said the event was part of the administration’s efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of police officers, and also improve peace and security efforts in the Niger Delta region.
Again, on Sept. 30, outgoing German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, via telephone conversation, felicitated Buhari, wishing him greater successes in the challenging task of leading Nigeria and her about 200 million people.
Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who confirmed this in a statement, said the German Chancellor initiated the chat to pay compliments and to say thank you to the Nigerian President.
Buhari on Sept. 30, sent goodwill message to President Xi Jinping on the 72nd Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1.
He lauded 50 years of robust diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and China, noting that the relationship had been yielding benefits for both countries.
The president said he looked forward to the uplift of the bilateral ties between the two nations.
Vice-President Osinbajo also represented the president at the Presidential Inauguration of the new President of Sao Tome and Principe, Mr Carlos Manuel Vila Nova, in Sao Tome city on Saturday.
According to Osinbajo, Nigeria’s relationship with the twin-island Central African nation of Sao Tome and Principe has been growing over the years and would even now be further strengthened
The event which held at the country’s Parliament Building was attended by leaders from Africa and Europe.
Buhari ended the week with an announcement of his planned trip to witness the inauguration of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for a second five-year term in office
According to a statement issued on Saturday by the president’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, the president departed Abuja for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Sunday, and he is expected back on Tuesday. (NAN)