Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation has faulted the claim by Muhammadu Buhari administration that its biggest achievement is reducing Nigeria’s dependence on foreign rice.

The campaign recalled that President Buhari himself recently boasted when he said to British Prime Minister, Theresa May on April 16, 2018 as follows: “We have cut rice importation by about 90%, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment. People had rushed to the cities to get oil money, at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land. We are making steady progress on the road to food security.”

It also said the claim was also made by the minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who on May 2, 2018 said as follows: “Unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone”.

But reacting, Atiku campaign said recently released data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Markets and Trade Report has proven these claims by President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to be false.

According to the World Markets and Trade Report of the USDA, which is a public document, Nigeria imported three million metric tonnes of rice in 2018, which is 400,000 metric tonnes more than the quantity of the product imported in 2017.

It does not end there. The report shows that there has actually been a steep drop in commercial rice production from its 2015 peak under the previous Peoples Democratic Party administration.

According to the report “Nigeria had consistently milled 3,780,000 metric tonnes annually – a drop from 3,941,000 metric tonnes recorded in 2015.”

“The Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation therefore wishes to appeal to President Buhari and his government to be truthful to the Nigerian public, rather than claim progress they have not made, because no matter how far and fast falsehood has travelled, it must eventually be overtaken by the truth.

“Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will always be honest and transparent with the Nigerian people as he carries all citizens along in his mission to Get Nigeria Working Again,” the campaign said.