President Muhammadu Buhari has queried the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, for issuing import waivers to some companies to import fertilizer into the country contrary to the presidential fertilizer initiative policy, which focuses on increasing local production capacity for the product.
The query came through the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, requesting explanations on the breach of presidential policy.
Nigeria and Morocco had signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2016 to help the former revive its ailing fertilizer industry through the supply of phosphates for local blending.
The MOU, which was consummated in 2018 during the visit of Buhari to Morocco, had helped to revive 28 of the country’s comatose companies, which were primed to increase Nigeria’s production capacity to 2.3 million tonnes and engage over 50,000 Nigerians.
The minister allegedly issued import licenses to unnamed importers to import fertilizers into the country purportedly to bridge the shortfall between local production and the demand for the product.
Fearing that the imports might crowd them out and undermine the significant strides achieved in the last three years of the implementation of the presidential initiative and the agreement with Morocco, the local producers protested to the presidency, triggering the presidential query to the Agriculture minister.
The presidency us alarmed that the minister’s action may reverse the gains made by the 28 local blending companies, including the upcoming Dangote Refinery, which fertilizer subsidiary had been based on the presidential initiative that assured local producers of protection against unfair import competition.
The president may have directed the minister to cancel the licenses immediately and further directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure strict implementation of the presidential directive.
- The CBN has issued a memorandum, directing that no foreign exchange should be made available for the purpose of funding fertilizer imports, warning that any company that imports the product by any other means would face heavy sanction.
In the memo dated January 30, 2020 and signed by Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Mr. A.S. Jibrin, the apex bank reminded authorised dealers and the general public that the ban on all NPK fertilizers and any other variant remained in force.
“For the avoidance of doubt, NO Authorised Dealer shall henceforth establish Forms M for the importation of these items,” it said, warning: “In view of the foregoing, any Authorised Dealer that establishes Forms M for the importation of all NPK fertilizers and any other variant shall be severely sanctioned, including the Management and staff responsible for the transaction,” the bank warned.