Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, has criticised former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for pledging to reopen Nigeria’s land borders if elected president.
Atiku, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made the pledge during his campaign rally in Katsina state on Tuesday.
Reacting on Thursday in Abuja, Lai said Atiku’s plan would return Nigeria to the era of “unbridled inflow of weapons and massive importation of food to the detriment” of local farmers.
The minister said Atiku’s pledge if implemented, would put millions of Nigerians out of jobs and destabilise the fertiliser companies and rice mills that have grown since Nigeria shut land borders in 2019.
He said the planned policy would worsen the security situation in the country and encourage an inflow of small arms and light weapons into the country.
He added that millions of rice farmers would lose their jobs when imported rice floods the country while hundreds of thousands of Nigerians working in the various rice mills established by the Muhammadu Buhari administration would be rendered jobless.
“By that statement, Alhaji Atiku will shut down most, if not all, of our new fertiliser blending companies, with thousands of jobs going down the drain,” he said.
“Also, by his declaration, the former vice-president has told Nigerians that he will worsen security in the country by allowing arms and ammunition to flow in unhindered into the country.
“His excellency, Atiku Abubakar, may also want to know that while Nigeria was the number one export destination for rice in 2014, our country has now moved to number 79, according to Thai authorities.
“By throwing open the borders indiscriminately as he has pledged, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has simply announced that he intends to return Nigeria to the number one importer of Thai rice in 2023!
“For sheer expediency, Alhaji Atiku, a former customs officer who rose to the pinnacle of his career, is ready to erase the gains made since 2015 in pushing Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in the production of staples.”
The minister said Atiku’s promise is a red flag to Nigerians who have been striving “to produce what they eat and eat what they produce