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Nigeria and Economic Recession: Way out (7)

By Afe Babalola 
“The current economic realities not only require a return to agriculture, the future and well being of generations of Nigerians yet unborn demands it.”

Last week in continuation of my examination of the huge potentials of Agriculture as a means out of getting Nigeria out of the current economic crisis, I focused on the advantages of the River Basin Development Authorities established in 1976 by the regime of the then General Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR. I concluded by calling on government to to revisit the river basin schemes in order to improve agricultural fortunes of Nigeria.

Government must plan according to climatic regions: In formulating policies for the revival of agriculture, governments across the federation and the states must as a matter of necessity give consideration to the climatic regions of Nigeria which range from mangrove forest to rainforest area to tall grass land, to Savannah, to grassland, shrubs and temperate climate on the Plateau.

The rainforest areas can be earmarked for the cultivation of trees and fruits like, cocoa, palm oil etc. The tall grass areas can be dedicated for sugar cane, maize etc, the Savannah area with short grass for ground nut, millet, cotton and temperate region for wheat, apples etc. In short, there is no crop on earth which Nigeria cannot grow.

Maintaining food sufficiency

The countries in the world that are so blessed are USA, Brazil, Argentina, Congo and Malaysia. However as I stated earlier such planning can only be effective if States and Local Governments are involved. It is highly impracticable for the government at the centre to sit back in Abuja and formulate policies designed to impact a farmer in Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State or in Otuocha in Anambra State.

Such approach will not even permit for proper planning to guard against the effects of the global climate change,a phenomenon which any country desirous of   attaining and maintaining food sufficiency must be adequately prepared for. This much was also stated by Anselm A. Enete and Taofeek A. Amusa in an Article titled “Challenges of Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Nigeria: a Synthesis from the Literature” in which the wrote as follows:

“In the case of Nigeria, all the agricultural research institutes are owned and managed by the federal government; the State and Local governments, which are closer to the rural farmers, have no research institutes. This means that all decisions on the funding, direction and implementation of research activities are taken from Abuja (Agbamu, 2000).

The consequence of this is not only over-centralization of agricultural administration, but also that those involved are hardly in touch with the reality on ground…This could pose serious challenge for agricultural adaptation to climate change…In addition, this can also hamper the development of new agricultural technologies like new crop and animal varieties for climate change adaptation.”

Way forward: In order to revive the lost glory of Agriculture in Nigeria, we must quickly apply the following recommendations as follows:

  1. Agricultural science must be taught in all elementary and secondary schools as a compulsory subject.
  2. All universities must encourage students to study agriculture through reduction in school fees such as exemplified by my University, ABUAD where there is 50% reduction in tuition for all students admitted to study agriculture.

In addition, graduates of agriculture must be empowered to practice their profession upon graduation just as ABUAD has been empowering its agriculture graduates with N250,000.00 for its initial startup investment in any area of farming.

  1. Across the country, each local government should be encouraged to ask families to come together, and combine their lands together, in order to work together and generate a large scale industrial farming.

4.Also, local governments should encourage cooperative systems in each local government areas across each state of the federation.

I believe we can revive the old glory of agriculture in Nigeria in general. We can do it. The current economic realities not only require a return to agriculture, the future and well being of generations of Nigerians yet unborn demands it.

Comments  from readers

Some of the comments received from readers are published below:

After reading your article on the above subject matter am amazed   that you only   referred   to the East and Southwest   as the hob of agriculture   in Nigeria.May be you have not travelled out of your comfort   zone in West to know Midwest region which is not part of Southwest   Was the hob of oil Palm, rubber, cocoa and timber e t c in Nigeria.

Before u publish your next article on Agriculture,   let inform you that the demise of agriculture   us not solely to oil because the proceeds from oil was being used to develop   agriculture   through the establishment   of the Commodity Boards. There were six Commodity Boards. Namely   Cocoa, Rubber, Palm Produce, Grains, Cotton and Roots and Rubber. All these boards were not only involved in extension services but also marketing and quality control. All the boards were abolished. Marketing and quality control.  

From the blues, Babagida and your brother Falae abolished all the Boards; sold all the properties to the privileged   class and welcomed the influx of Asians who carted away our prized   commodities and kept the foreign exchange for themselves and their Nigerian promoters. Pls do us a favour check with   Central Bank the non-oil proceeds accruing   to Nigerian before the abolition   of Boards in 1986 and the revenue since the abolition of the Boards.

Kingsley Agbonaye

Dear sir, the   4th in your series on “The Way Out of Our Economic Recession” was clear and to the point. We all hope the laggards in Abuja have the time and intellectual capacity to read and understand the practical suggestions you are making pro-Bono.

I will like to add sir that while listing the efforts of past Fed governments to focus on agriculture, there was an important omission. The Government of Alh Shehu Shagari made the boldest and most far-reaching effort. In what that regime called “The Green Revolution”, River   Basins were set up in all the present geo-political zones of the country. I remember the Owena River Basin   in Ondo state, the Rano River Basin, The Bakolori, the Bagauda   Lake basins….

You are right in your assertion that the States were not involved in the formulation of the policies of those agricultural initiatives. There was also the folly of carrying the acrimonious political rivalry that preceded the elections well into post-election developmental initiatives for which reasons non-NPN states did not show much interest in what would have been the beginning of a true revolution in agriculture.

Thus, the river basins in the SW died without making any impact. Most of those in the NPN states in the north thrived. They formed the basis of the increase in the production of tomatoes which we all enjoy all over Nigeria today.

Further progress in agriculture was truncated by the military tugs led by the duo of this same Buhari {perhaps now born again} and late Tunde Idiagbon who overthrew the Shagari administration on 31 December 1983.

For completion, I thought you should insert this into your well- researched free consultation for a   Government that is badly in need of direction.

  1. Ogungbemi


The River Basins were first introduced by the military via decree No. 25 of 1976, as a direct result of the drought experienced in some parts of the country between 1972-74.  As a result 11 River Basin Development Authorities were established with the aim of harnessing Nigeria’s water resources and utilisation of its  agricultural resources for food sufficiency.

Water resources  and utilisation

These included:   Upper Benue Basin, the Lake Chad Basin,   Benin-Owena Basin, Sokoto-Rima Basin, Sokoto; Hadejia-Jema’are Basin, Kano;   Maiduguri; the , Yola; the Lower Benue Basin, Makurdi and the Cross River Basin, Calabar. Others are; Oshun-Ogun Basin, Abeokuta. Anambra-Imo Basin, Owerri; the Niger Basin, Ilorin; and Niger Delta Basin, Port Harcourt. According to report on the subject published in the Vanguard of 2nd April 2013

Dear Aare Afe Babalola,

I wish to request that your article in the Vanguard of 28th of December, 2016   (Nigeria and Economic Recession: Way out (Revival of Agriculture)) should also be published in THE NIGERIAN ARCHIVE. The Nigerian Archive was established to document and transmit news and information on Nigeria and its people, focusing on places, events, stories, culture and knowledge. Your article will be read by a wide range of readers and it will remain online for future readers.

Most people now get their news on their mobile phones and will reach Nigerians and non-Nigerians within and outside the country. Please submit the article and others that you have previously published in newspapers to We are also inviting you to join our highly esteemed editorial board.

Yours sincerely,

Lucky Ijabor Information Officer The Nigerian Archive



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.