CLAIM: The Special Assistant to the President on public affairs and Assistant Principal Spokesman for the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential campaign council, Ajuri Ngelale, stated in an interview that Nigeria became the highest producer of rice in Africa under the current administration.
Findings made by DUBAWA revealed that Nigeria is indeed the largest producer of rice in Africa. Also, Nigeria has ranked 14th on the global scale of rice production in recent years.
Election periods come with debates and points to prove. For the ruling political party, the standards of judgement can be higher than others, as the electorates find such moments to question the past activities of the administration.
In preparation for the February 2023 Presidential election, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale, and Assistant Principal Spokesman for the APC presidential campaign council appeared on Channels TV’s Politics Today.
In defence of the ruling party fielding Bola Tinubu as the presidential candidate, Ajuri – during the interview with Seun Okinbaloye – said Nigeria is now the largest producer of rice in Africa, compared to 2015.
This was obtained in a tweet shared by David Offor with the caption, “Dino Melaye, Daniel Bwala, and Dele Momodu put together can’t match the brilliance of Ajuri. Baba is a blessing to Bola Tinubu’s campaign.”
The shared video, lasting for two minutes and 19 seconds, had Ajuri praising the current administration for agricultural reforms in the country. Starting from exactly one minute, 14 seconds, he said, “On the other hand, if you look at the manifesto, you’d also find on page 27 [in reference to Tinubu’s presidential manifesto] when we talked about agriculture and his excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed’s plans for agriculture, he makes clear on page 27 that we are building on the successful foundation laid by President Muhammadu Buhari in agricultural reform in the country. We went from a situation in 2015 where we were the largest rice importer in Africa. Today, we are the largest producer of rice in Africa.”
As of press time, the tweet has been viewed 9,554 times. It has also gained 840 likes, 375 retweets and 102 comments.
The cost of a 50kg bag of rice, at ₦35,000 as of press time, left room for doubt in his statement. This made DUBAWA run a fact-check.
Before the start of the Buhari-led administration in 2015, Nigeria spent $2.41 billion in three years on rice importation, according to the central bank’s governor, Godwin Emefiele.
DUBAWA discovered that the CBN introduced funding programmes like the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development fund to aid local farmers in Nigeria.
Also, the Federal government declared a ban on importing rice, among other goods, on June 23, 2015.
Fast forward to February 2022, Nigeria’s rice mills have increased from 10 to 68, according to the CBN governor.
He revealed that the combined capacity has also increased from 350,000 metric tonnes to about three million.
Further findings revealed that Nigeria had topped the African chart of countries producing more rice.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria ranks 14th globally as of 2020, while China holds the top slot. Egypt, Tanzania, and Madagascar are the only African countries making the top 20 list.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Services also corroborated the increased rice production from Nigeria. In the November 2021 circular released by the organisation, Nigeria produced 4.89 million metric tonnes of rice, while Egypt came second with roughly four million metric tonnes.
Though the price of rice is currently higher than in 2015, Ajuri’s claim that Nigeria produces more rice than other African countries is true.