President Muhammadu Buhari says he could not believe his ears when told the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had no savings under the Jonathan administration when crude oil sold for over 100 dollars per barrel with 2.1 billion barrels produced on a daily basis.
He made this known on Friday when he received a delegation of All Progressives Congress, APC, members from Kebbi state in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said he found it difficult believing that there was no savings on the ground that majority of Nigerians could not afford imported food and relied on what is locally grown.
He observed that some members of the Nigerian elite colluded with foreign shipping firms, insurance companies and financial outfits to defraud the country and deplete the nation’s foreign reserves.
He said: “When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than 100 dollars per barrel for many years and production was 2.1 billion barrels per day, I did not believe them.
“I did not believe them because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown. It turned out that 50 per cent of the export bills were fraudulent, courtesy of the Nigerian elite.
“Unfortunately, we will not know all that happened because the elite worked in collusion with institutions in developed countries like insurance firms, shipping companies and other financial outfits, to perpetuate the fraud.”
Buhari reiterated the commitment of his administration to reviewing and strengthening agricultural reforms “until Nigeria regains its pride of place as food exporting country”.
While observing that the country’s rice import bill has significantly declined, he said: “Beyond self-sufficiency, Nigeria must strive to become net exporter of food commodities.
“We are not doing badly in the agriculture sector. Nigerians and indeed the world, are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will work harder until we start exporting food.
“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country have gone down by over 90 per cent, and everyone can see how productive states like Kebbi turned out to be and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example.”