The Emir of Kano, Mouhammadu Sanusi ll, has called on the Economic Community Of West African States, ECOWAS, to ban the importation of rice in to the whole West Africa.
Speaking at a Twonhall Meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in Kano State for a 2-day working visit, held at the government house, on Thursday, Sanusi advocated that banning the importation of the commodity would aid the Federal Government to achieve its commitment to boosting local production of food.
According to Mr Sanusi, while the federal government banned the importation of rice through the land boarders, the commodity was being smuggled through the Republic of Benin to Nigeria, noting that the country was the highest recipient of rice importation in the whole West Africa.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, also lamented that most ECOWAS countries preferred to assist rice farmers in India, Thailand and China to Nigerian farmers.
The monarch also advised President Buhari to withdraw Nigeria’s membership from ECOWAS if it fails to comply with the request to ban importation of rice from the part of Africa, revealing that Nigeria represented 70% of ECOWAS and 60% of its economic base.
“There is no way we share the same platform with countries but they prefer to help boost agriculture of Thailand, India and China to Nigerian farmers. If the FG wants to ban the importation of rice, it should do it right from the level of ECOWAS.
“Let me tell you that, while the federal government of Nigeria has banned the importation of rice via land borders, the commodity is being smuggled through Coutnou, the highest recipient of rice importation in Africa.
“Mr President, if the ECOWAS fail to ban the rice importation, we are ready to withdraw our membership, close our borders and invest massively in the production of rice, maize and other agricultural products in order to create more wealth for our farmers,” he said.
The monarch also called on the president to complement his resolve to improve local food production by banning the importation of all small food items.
He said: “Exotic chickens are imported into this country. In September only, about 1million tone of the exotic chicken was imported into this country through Lagos port.
At this juncture, we call on the federal government to ban the importation of maize, which isnused for the production ofbthe chicken feeds, to allow our local farmers produce the maize in order to improve their economic well-being.
“Sir, our farmers, especially here in Kano, have recorded bumper harvest in this season, but there is a danger in the future if the importation of all those small food items are not banned,” he added.
The monarch also called on Buhari to check the problem of drug abuse bidevilling Kano and other Northern states.
Mr Sanusi also commended President Buhari for his commitments to decimate Boko Haram insurgency, fight corruption and economic improvement, assuring that his emirate council would continue to support the president in order to take the country to the promise land.
In his remarks, Buhari said 90% of rice importation via land borders has been reduced, adding that his administration has ordered that rice should be imported only through Lagos and Portharcourt ports.
On trans-border relationship, the president replied the emir that his government was working to establish cordial relationship with Nigerian neighboring countries, noting that it was inevitable to live with a neighbor.
On drug abuse, Mr Buhari restated commitment to check the proliferation of hard drugs into the country, adding” Many people have talked to me about this. That is why I have assigned a retired military man to handle this. You all know about the performance of Hameed Ali. He is doing a good job, and by God’s grace we will do more.”