By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
Okechukwu stated this in a statement issued to journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
He said that the government was not worried about the country’s indebtedness to China as Nigeria’s food export to the country could balance its trade deficit with the Asian nation.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain noted that China’s total food imports amounted to 58.28 billion dollars in 2020, up 25 per cent year-on-year, while the annual average growth rate over the previous five years was 5.7 per cent.
According to him, with vigour and dedication, the Federal Government could have a big cut from the over $50 billion dollars China spends on food importation.
He, however, urged youths to join President Muhammadu Buhari’s Agro-Revolution for the country to attain food security and exports.
Okechukwu said, “It’s high time our youths joined the Federal Government’s Agrarian Revolution for food security and exports. Methinks Nigeria can repay Chinese loans with food exports. China imports food in billions of dollars annually.
“It is painful that our youths are not engaging sufficiently in agriculture, especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).”
He explained that the government’s ABP was a deliberate policy to stimulate agricultural activities and move the country away from over-dependence on crude oil revenue.
The APC chieftain queried, “Is it not embarrassing that advanced countries like Europe and the United States have more food to export than an agrarian country like Nigeria?
“Improved agricultural production will boost rail haulage on the domestic side and food export to China will definitely improve and balance our trade deficit with the country. The same goes for the US which, some years ago, enacted AGOA for countries like Nigeria. But we have been unable to exploit it because of our over-dependence on oil.”
But on the practicality of his hope on food exports to repay Nigeria’s huge loans from China, especially when insecurity is affecting farming activities, Okechukwu said: “Insecurity cannot continue indefinitely; more so, Mr President has emphatically ordered the arrest of those herdsmen bearing arms without a licence. And don’t forget that many states are quietly curbing the farmers-herdsmen clashes. In Enugu for instance, we have Forest Guards and in the South West we have Amotekun.”