Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said that importers are the greatest cogs of Nigeria’s efforts to promote patronage of locally manufactured goods.
Speaking before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture in Abuja on Tuesday where he appeared to defend the ministry’s budget, Ogbe said that international merchants such as importers of such products as toothpick, sugar, vegetables, and pencils were frustrating government’s efforts at ensuring that Nigerians bought made in Nigeria goods.
He said: “We are a nation of importers. Toothpick every year costs us 18 million dollars, tomato paste costs us 400 million dollars.
“Meanwhile, a basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000. The farmers are losing money because the processors do not have enough funds to set up factories.
“Two factories have started off. I am sure by the end of next year we can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop.
“Unfortunately, when you do you make enemies; even the importation of rice that we are trying to reduce is creating for us enemies, heavy enemies, people, who can kill if they have the opportunity because you are spoiling their business.
“Nobody should take this lightly. These guys have hijacked the economy of this country.
“They have taken it hostage and they have no intention of giving up. This regime is unpopular in part because it is trying to cut down imports and transfer the wealth to another thing.
“It will take a strong government to cure Nigeria of this problem,” he added.

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