The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, to apologise to Nigerians and resign making false claims on Thailand closing down its rice mills on account of reduced importation from Nigeria.
The party in a statement on Friday by its national publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Mr. Ogbeh should ”immediately toe the path of honour and resign for portraying Nigeria as a lying nation.”
The minister had claimed that a Thailand diplomat told him in a private conversation that President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of reducing importation of rice and encouraging local production led to the ”collapse of seven rice mills in Thailand” and an unemployment crisis in the country.
“Just like two weeks ago, the ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really dealt with them.
“But I asked what did we do wrong and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four percent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone,” Mr. Ogbeh was quoted as saying.
However, Ambassador of Thailand to Nigeria, Wattana Kuwongse in a subtle criticism a few hours later had chided the minister for incorrect misrepresentation of what was discussed between the two officials. He said the minister’s claim of the collapse of his nation’s rice mills was not true even as he tried to lessen his indignation by saying the two nations had a mutually beneficial relationship.
The minister is yet to clarify his claims or offer any explanation.
The opposition PDP said the ”whole world” was appalled by the minister’s deception.
The PDP said this development has further dragged down the image of the nation which the APC-led administration has “wrecked in the last three years”.