Abuja – The National Economic Council (NEC), on Tuesday in Abuja, expressed optimism that the nation would experience bumper harvest this year which would force down the prices of foodstuff.
Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo, spoke at a joint news briefing with Govs. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo and Jubrilla Bindow of Adamawa at the end of the NEC meeting, presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
According to Okorocha, Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe, briefed the NEC on progress of government’s agricultural policies, while the state governors agreed to partner federal government in agricultural programmes.
Okorocha said NEC hailed the anchor borrowers’ scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “as a success story’’ with many states participating in rice farming.
He said: “Agriculture is very key for us to come out of recession and improve quickly on the economy of our nation.
“However, we were concerned about some of the items being imported in this country in the name of food.
“We have cautioned the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, NAFDAC and all agencies that deal with quality of goods to do their best to ensure that rubbish is not sent to this country in the name of food.’’
Okorocha hinted that NEC realised that some of the frozen fish and chicken imported into the country were preserved with “very dangerous chemicals.’’
Gov. Oshiomhole also said that NEC had a very comprehensive brief from the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on the challenges in the power sector.
He said the nation still did not have enough power coupled with the interruptions “as a result of many factors.
“The level of generation is still far below what the country needs to be able to have stable power supply in the homes and other places,’’ he said.
Oshiomhole, however, said that NEC was satisfied that the government was working on diversifying various sources of power supply including hydro, solar, wind and gas.
The governor noted that the migration from government ownership of power projects to private sector also posed some challenges in the sector.
He said NEC had very robust communication on the issue of tariffs and community problems as well as issues arising from exchange rate as it affected procurement of power infrastructure.
“But on the whole, we are confident that the government is moving in the right direction, adding “there are challenges but those things will be overcome.’’
On the blueprint to deliver housing units for the low income earners, the governor said NEC was satisfied that much of the building materials to be used would be locally made.
He added that housing was an area the administration believed it could generate a good number of jobs.
“Once it gets started, the whole idea is to have a national consensus.
“Regardless of the colour of the government that comes in, the government policy on housing can speak to a Nigerian policy that goes beyond the tenure of any political party.’’
He said NEC called for the sustenance of efforts on housing provision, adding that government would deliver on its promise to provide housing in each of the 36 states of the federation.
On the large number of unoccupied houses in Abuja, Oshiomhole said government would not introduce forceful occupation of private houses, but would provide alternative houses that could force rents down.
The governor of Adamawa Bindo said that one of the things the NEC discussed was the end of the tenure of Gov. Adams Oshiomhole.
He said NEC acknowledged his integrity and commitment to his people and would miss him.
He said NEC wished him well in his future endevours.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that at the end, Oshiomhole introduced the governor-elect of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, to the press corps and asked the corps to extend cooperation to him.
Obaseki said he was delighted to interact with the press corps, adding that the corps had influence on reporting the polity and could not be ignored.