Successive Governments failed to Explore the Opportunities in Agriculture-Prof Olagoke
Prices of foodstuff in various markets in Nigeria is on the increase, despite the Federal Government’s insistence that it has done a lot to ensure that the agriculture sector is able to provide the food needs of the people and revenue for government.
Interestingly, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh has declared that 90 per cent of rice in the markets are locally produced, Nigerians, however, dismiss the Minister’s claim, arguing that most of the markets sell imported rice. In this interview, the Founder, Grand Imam and Spiritual Head of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke says that successive governments did not explore the various opportunities in the agriculture sector. Excerpts :
The prices of foodstuff in the markets are on the increase, what do you think is the cause ?
Nigeria is overdue for meaningful diversification of the economy.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s regime established the refineries with the hope of satisfying domestic demand for petroleum products. Port harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries were established and these refineries functionally produced to the satisfaction of the people of Nigeria.
The government then, equally had on its agenda, the expansion prospects, this was not to be due to the absence of continuity in governance.
The export of crude oil gained prominence, while the refining of crude oil abroad for home consumption took center stage.
Initially, Nigeria enjoyed the domestic production of crude oil, same was the case of imported refined petroleum products.
The long years of military rule in Nigeria affected policies of government and resulted in the neglect of the refineries. This now made the country to depend heavily on imported petroleum products.
Also, crude oil as the mainstay of the economy suffered from activities in the international market, such as fluctuations in prices.
This to a large extent negatively affected the annual budget, since budget performance was hinged on the unstable price of crude oil.
The cheapest area of diversification of the economy, is agriculture.
Animal husbandry , poultry farming and several other aspects of farming make the sector a very attractive potential revenue earner.
In fact the physiological needs of shelter, clothing and feeding, are the major reasons why the country must focus on agriculture.
Unfortunately, successive governments have not been able to explore the limitless opportunities in the sector.
Suffice it now to say that Nigeria needs to embark on phased restructuring process to correct the anomalies in governance.
For example the Ministers are expected to give bi-annual reports of their performances, rather than be requested to do so at the expiration period of the four year term of government.
Nigerians deserve the best in terms of governance, but this is not the case.
Strategic administration and effective management styles that could call for merit is the subject matter to build corporate governance for virile and strong institutions where policies would be made to work effectively.
Diversification of the economy is long overdue and the agriculture sector based om modern day practice all over the world must be sought in Nigeria.
Government must desist from wasting money through paper theory agriculture experts.
But must train the trainers to identify with the real farmers for the sake of rural integration need for the policy, at the implementation level, can only be realized through using the SWOT analysis on why and how similar projects failed such as DFFRI, OFN, Better Life for Rural Women and Agriculture revolution.
A critical study of the current one needs to be done, to be able to overhaul where necessary and adapt to compliment the news ideas.
Above all, democracy is about the people that must be managed to meet up with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs-physiological, sociological, security, self esteem and actualization realm, while government must manage self to be able to achieve with Olagoke hierarchy of attitudinal needs using Maslow’s apex of actualization realm as its foundation-mentor ship for governance and policy continuity, altruism philosophy for culture of philanthropy and total personality target for true spirit of elder statesmen with high sense of forgiveness and service to humanity.
Imbibing the two as a culture of living would not only put the people to be served into the readiness of supporting government on the culture of patriotism and trust in the face of government’s transparency and accountability.
When there are successes in agricultural projects, same would manifest in the welfare of the people.
Don’t let us play rhetoric with the issue of economy and agriculture, but rather let us be decisive and pragmatic in the areas of availability, accessibility, affordability and cost effectiveness to give this government a deserving credit.