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Minister Slams FG for Prioritizing Presidential Jet Over Food Inflation

Professor Pat Utomi criticized the Tinubu government for ignoring his advice on tackling food inflation, arguing the government is focused on maintaining presidential jets and SUVs rather than addressing the issue

• Utomi warned that the government’s focus on food imports could lead to long-term dependency and criticized the recent policy announcements as panic-driven and structurally damaging

Professor Pat Utomi, a renowned political economist and former presidential candidate, has criticized the Bola Tinubu-led government for ignoring his advice on tackling food inflation. Utomi expressed his disappointment in a social media post on Tuesday, following the Federal Government’s announcement of measures to reduce food prices in Nigeria.

Senator Abubakar Kyari, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, recently unveiled plans to suspend certain imported food items through land and sea borders. He announced a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities, including maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas. These imported food commodities will also be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP). Additionally, the government plans to import 250,000 metric tons of wheat and maize.

Reacting to these measures, Utomi took to X (formerly Twitter) to criticize the government’s priorities. He argued that the administration is more focused on maintaining presidential jets, the Lagos-Calabar highway, and providing SUVs for lawmakers rather than addressing the pressing issue of food inflation.

“I woke up at 2am to do the KAKAAKI interview this morning but the chill of the wrong policies announced yesterday for the agriculture sector has not let me return to sleep. Do we forget so quickly?” Utomi wrote. He highlighted the historical impact of poor trade policies, which led cash crop farmers to abandon their farms for jobs in non-tradable goods sectors due to the volatility of oil prices.

Utomi warned that the current focus on food imports could lead to long-term dependency, especially when the country lacks the financial resources to sustain such imports. He emphasized the risk of inviting famine and criticized the government’s recent policy announcements as panic-driven and structurally damaging.

“Months ago, I pleaded that this food price inflation should be combated with Forest rangers being deployed to fertile territories and farmers given input incentives managed by NGOs and not corrupt government officials so that they can focus on legumes that can be harvested in three months and the markets flooded with food,” Utomi stated.

He lamented the government’s misplaced priorities, concluding, “Instead, we focused on Presidential Jets, Lagos-Calabar Highway, SUVs for the National Assembly, and Presidential motorcades of 100 vehicles. The height of unwisdom. Now the chickens have come home to roost and we want to inflict long-term structural damage in panic incentives. God Save Our Souls.”

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