Possibly rattled by the deluge of backlash by Nigerian netizens, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has issued a statement denying any plans to ban milk imports into the country.
After an announcement where the apex bank indicated that to develop the local dairy industry, there is the need to protect such by stopping import of milk and save the nation good foreign exchange, the tweeter account of the CBN had a barrage of counter tweets where 99 percent of over 700 comments attacked and faulted the decision.
As countermeasure, the CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor issued a statement on Saturday backtracking on what he said was misrepresentation of the bank’s position.
Okoroafor said; ‘The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to attempts by some interests, who feel hurt by the planned policy aimed at promoting the local production of milk in Nigeria, to mislead the general public by misrepresenting the ordinarily unassailable case for investments in local milk production and the medium to long-term benefits of the planned policy.
‘While we are aware that some of our policies may hurt some business interests, we are thankful to Nigerians for the buy-in and intense interest in the policies of the CBN.
As a people-oriented institution, however, we shall remain focused on the overarching and ultimate welfare of the Nigerian masses.
We, therefore, wish to, once again, reiterate our policy case as it relates to the planned restriction of access to the Nigerian Foreign Exchange market by importers of milk:
Nigeria and the welfare of all Nigerians come first in all our policy considerations. Being an apolitical organisation, we do not wish to be dragged into politics.
Our focus remains ensuring forex savings, job creation and investments in the local production of milk.
For over 60 years, Nigerian children and indeed adults have been made to be heavily dependent on milk imports.
The national food security implications of this can easily be imagined, particularly, when it is technically and commercially possible to breed the cows that produce milk in Nigeria.
About three years ago, we began a policy to encourage backward integration to conserve foreign exchange and create jobs for our people.
Included in this policy package was the introduction of the highly successful policy which restricted the sale of forex from the Nigerian foreign exchange market for the importation of some 43 items goods that could be produced in Nigeria.
Arising from the success of the restriction policy, we approached some milk importers, like we did for rice, tomato, and starch and asked them to take advantage of CBN’s low-interest loans to begin local milk production instead of relying endlessly on milk imports.
Today, although there have been some successful attempts at producing milk locally, the vast majority of the importers still treat this national aspiration with imperial contempt. edium