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Tinubu’s removal of tariffs on rice, other food items not imminent – Bayo Onanuga


With the same day news broke out that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had removed tariffs on importation of rice and other grains, another update from his Presidency such decision was not yet in place but only under consideration.

Reports Monday July 8, 2024 said that the tariffs removal was to mitigate the yet-to-subside effects of inflation caused by President’s fuel subsidy removal and floating naira against foreign currencies over a year ago.

But the Tinubu administration said it was only considering suspending the tariffs on rice and other food commodities’ imports for 150 days to rein in hunger nationwide.

The DEFENDER’s enquiry to extract further details and clarifications from the President’s Special Adviser on Infkrnation and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, on the statement credited to the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Abubakar Kyari, was yet to be responded to as at the time of filing this report Tuesday morning of July 9, 2024.

However, the Presidential spokesman had earlier told Peoples Gazette that a memo was already circulating across government departments, even though the policy was not imminent as of Monday evening (of July 8).

The memo leaked online Monday to nationwide excitement, but the president’s spokesman said it was a regrettable error.

“The policy was mistakenly circulated,” Mr Onanuga reportably said, adding that, “We are still deliberating internationally from the agric ministry to other agencies on how best to proceed with the policy.”

Mr Onanuga apologised for the error and said the government was not oblivious to its potential impact on longsuffering Nigerians. He said it was yet unfinished.

This was coming as reports that a frustrated citizen attempted to jump to his death from a 40-metre-high radio transmitter gripped the country.

The retracted policy draft said the measures would be implemented over the next 180 days and involve relaxing duties, tariffs and taxes on importing certain food commodities through land and sea borders.

Mr Tinubu’s administration, which kicked off in May 2023, has faced growing anger among Nigerians over its failure to address endemic food shortages urgently, even as inflation hovered at historically high figures. In recent weeks, the government has tried to address the issue by calling on Nigerians to plant food at subsistence levels, with First Lady Remi Tinubu leading the charge with a cash price for households.

But this approach has seen its share of mockery, as citizens took online to decry how futile it would be to expect over 200 million citizens to farm their way to food sustainability when massive importation would suffice.

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