By Prince Agwu
The older man is Mr. Audu Ogbe while the other is Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina. The former is a trained personnel in the field of education while the latter is an agricultural economist with a PhD in same field and a policy expert. Audu is the current Minister of Agriculture while Adesina is his predecessor. The geriatric is famous for his statement that “Nigerians eat too much rice, hence the reason for the commodity being expensive”.
The mid-50s intellectual is acknowledged as one of Nigeria’s finest ministers though a victim of the underreported achievements of the past administration. Dr. Adesina within his years of service was made Forbes man of the year and bagged two major appointments in agricultural related committees of the United Nations. He is currently the President of the Africa Development Bank and the first Nigerian to achieve such feat, which is a reward for his enormous contributions to the one time largest economy in Africa. As part of his achievements within his ministerial tenure, sanity returned to fertilizer distribution; agriculture became a major contributor to the GDP of Nigeria; policies were made to boost the production of rice of which if sustained, Nigeria would have gradually stopped its importation unlike the abrupt manner used by the present administration which helped the inflation.
Under Adesina, Nigeria for the first time produced bread from 100% Nigerian grown wheat. Dangote as well other lead agrarian forces, will always remain a testament to the numerous agricultural policies that grew their businesses. Scholarships were awarded to scholars and students within the fields of agriculture. Most students in agricultural related disciplines, who were touted to be mere farmers, gained huge pride plying their studies and trade. You can look at YEAP and its dividends which was a programme brewed out of thought provoking agricultural policies. Today, these glorious days are fizzling and dizzying under the watch of a square peg in a round hole.
You can look at Anambra State in the spirit of actual economic diversification mapping out huge funds for agricultural intervention programmes. Today, that State exports vegetables and make cool revenue from that. Look at Ebonyi who in the spirit of the Fiscal Policy on Rice as initiated by the past administration, endeavoured to sustain the gains of that achievement by funding rice cum agricultural sector of their economy. Today, a ban on foreign rice within the State leaves its residents happier than ever. Who says competence is not a panacea to poverty and underdevelopment?
And why they lament an almost diversified economy before they took over, they rather have chosen to spend billions looking for oil in the North East. Week-in-week-out there are no longer reported initiatives buoying agriculture in Nigeria. The policies and programmes have been blurted and we are back to normative farming. The pride is lost and those who at a time wanted having farms are preparing their CVs to be employed in the new oil industries that will be set up in the North East. They will finally infest their ecology and we will have militants at the Northern and Southern Poles.
This is a Minister of Agriculture, named Audu Ogbe and he is a trained teacher/politician. His appointment misfit is obviously a contributor to our recession…