The All Progressives Congress on Tuesday rejected a request by Vietnam to bring subsidised rice to Nigeria.
The APC said accepting the request would further hurt the country’s economy.
The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, stated this while receiving a delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Vuong Hue, in Abuja.
Hue, who is billed to meet with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday (today) had requested the support of the ruling party for the Asian nation to export subsidised rice to Nigeria.
Speaking through an interpreter, Hue said, “We can offer concessional import rate on rice, while you are working on self-sufficiency.
“We can do two things at a time — while we give concession, you can increase your local output.”
But Oshiomhole said, “If government allows importation of food, it will lead to unemployment, our youths will become idle. We want to promote food security.
“Rather than importing rice from Vietnam, your (Vietnam) farmers can take advantage of our arable land. We have to do that not only to protect farmers but to tackle food security.”
Oshiomhole said the Federal Government’s decision to close the borders deserved the support of every Nigerian.
He said, “Nigerians should unanimously back the decision of the Federal Government to close the borders until our neighbours decide to respect the laws of fair and free trade.
“Nigeria must not and cannot be a dumping ground for imported foods, imported rice and other smuggled chemicals and drugs.
“I think this is one policy that cuts across party divides, across primordial sentiments.
“People should salute the courage of President Muhammadu Buhari in shutting the borders because, for too long, we have been a big brother to our neighbours. Now, that big brother is hurting us and hurting us very badly.
“This is the moment. We must keep those borders shut. If we do so for two or three years, it doesn’t matter; so that our neighbours will learn to respect the rules of international engagement and the rules of trade.”
Oshiomhole added, “What has happened is that, people relocate from Nigeria, target Nigerian market and use our neighbours to compromise our own trade policies. So, I think the media should understand what is at stake.
“We cannot continue to rely on imported rice. That was what I told the DPM, when he talked about allowing Vietnamese rice to come to Nigeria.
“I said ‘No,’ we are not going to do that; we will not do that. On the contrary, we are prohibiting the importation of rice, we don’t need imported rice.”
The delegation had appealed to the FG to suspend its policy to ban importation of rice.