As Nigeria is seeking ways to curb the unbridled importation of goods that are surpassing exportation and crippling the country’s economy, it has been revealed that some nationals go to the extent of ordering pizza from London and picking them at the airport.
This was disclosed by Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh who appeared before the Senate Committee on Agriculture in Abuja on Tuesday to defend the ministry’s budget for 2019.
“Do you know, sir, that there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London? They buy in London and bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport,” TheCable newspaper quoted the minister as saying.
“It is a very annoying situation and we have to move a lot faster in cutting down some of these things,” he added.
The minister expressed worry over the country’s fixation on importation which has affected local markets and the value of its currency due to higher import rates.
“Toothpick every year costs us $18 million; tomato paste costs us $400 million. Meanwhile, a basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000 [$5.54]… The farmers are losing money because the processors do not have enough funds to set up factories. Two factories have started off. I am sure by the end of next year we can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop,” he disclosed.
Nigeria is considered an economic powerhouse in Africa but the economic fundamentals are weak as compared to global markets. Experts blame the country’s woes on domestic factors such as high unemployment rate, inflation and international trade deficit.
There are hundreds of pizza restaurants in Lagos and Abuja alone but the claim of the minister only goes a long way to confirm the belief that some Nigerians indeed live elaborate lifestyles.
Meanwhile, the country plans to secure long-term loans to finance its 2019 budget in addition to borrowing at home to ease the financial crisis.
“We intend to fund the 2019 budget through borrowing locally and internationally with a spread of 50:50. Our focus is on concessionary long-term loans,” said Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed on Wednesday.