By Kamal .D. Kamal
WHILE majority of those in power often resort to media hype and populist propaganda to advertise themselves, a few silently achieve great things devoid of media evangelism.
His Excellency Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State belongs to the latter as he has been transforming the state without recourse to media publicity on his remarkable feats. Therefore, his Award as the Vanguard Newspapers Governor of the Year 2016 is a celebration of the silent achiever. Bagudu’s noteworthy approach to policy formulations and implementations has endeared him to his stream blowers as his monumental achievements speak for him.
It is a verifiable fact that during the 1960s, Nigeria was a food exporting giant with the Northern region involved in massive exportation of groundnuts and cotton, the Western region doing same for cocoa, while the Midwestern and Eastern regions made their mark on the rubber and palm oil exportation to the vast markets in Asia and Latin America. In fact, this accounted for the famous groundnut pyramids in Kano, rising to hundreds of feet above the ground, serving as tourist attraction for visitors from far and near.
Sadly, the discovery of crude oil, together with its exploration and exploitation, was soon to put to an end the nation’s thriving agricultural industry with many farmers and would-be farmers abandoning their fields to seek greener pastures in the urban centres throughout the federation.
The good news is that today, there are some farsighted and visionary political leaders who are determined to turn the tide and return the nation to the true path of agricultural renaissance in order to make the country self-sufficient in that crucial area of the nation’s economy. Governor Bagudu belongs to that exclusive club of pioneering administrators presently taking concrete steps to actualise this noble ambition.
On taking oath of office on May 29, 2015, Bagudu in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural transformation policy as an alternative to oil, resolutely marshalled a plan to key into the Federal Government’s ‘Anchor Borrowers Scheme’. The stated aim of this was massive production of rice in order to halt the present open-ended and foreign exchange depleting importation of rice and turn the state and indeed the nation into a net exporter of that valued food commodity. It is instructive to note that rather than try to actualise this through an aimless or incoherent policy as some state administrators are fond of doing, the Kebbi State helmsman had zeroed in on the rice production desideratum with the potential to trigger a multiplier effect on the state’s economy like increased food production, massive employment for the youths, increased revenue and boost in the infrastructural and developmental indices of the state and the nation in general.
For this purpose, he wasted no time in allocating huge tracts of land, thus side-stepping bureaucratic red tape usually associated with the acquisition of land. The move was a befitting complement to the template jointly agreed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; the Bank of Industry, BoI and the Kebbi State Government.
Also noteworthy is that under this forward-looking policy, compensation has been paid promptly to those affected land owners, while counterpart funding was promptly provided, thus boosting the overall morale and confidence of the citizenry, especially the participating farmers. Apart from this, government also provided essential farm equipment like tractors, harvesters, fertilizers and water pumps to provide the urgently needed irrigation water to the farms. Indeed, the Kebbi State government’s farm irrigation project deserves commendation as thousands of farms have been irrigated throughout the length and breadth of the Land of Equity.
There is hardly a farming or rural community that has not benefitted from the construction of earth dams and the supply of water pumps and the digging of wells to assess water for the rice revolution programme which has immensely contributed in no small way to the bountiful rice harvest witnessed in late 2016 as hundreds of thousands of metric tons of rice were harvested in the state. And the production and distribution of the famous LAKE RICE in collaboration with the Lagos State government is unprecedented in the history of the nation. It is being celebrated as a welcome development as it forced down the price of rice and lessening the economic pressure on millions of Kebbians and Nigerians at large.
No doubt, the visionary and dedicated posture of the Kebbi State chief executive was a key factor in the success of the revolutionary food programme of the APC administration under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is for this reason that Governor Bagudu is deservedly being acclaimed in all segments of the nation with the Vanguard Newspaper duly honouring him with the prestigious Award of Governor of the Year 2016. The Award also belongs to PMB, the APC and the key players in the Anchor Borrowers Scheme. Indeed,the Kebbi rice production initiative will surely take the country back to the glory days of massive food exportation and reverse the prevailing massive importation of food commodities.