…As Sultan calls for devolution of ‘dams’, not restructuring
By Wole Mosadomi
Minna— Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and ex-Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), declared, yesterday, that only diversification of the economy to agriculture would take the country out of recession.
At Niger State Investment Summit in Minna, the three leaders spoke vehemently against the country’s reliance on revenue from crude oil.
Osinbajo, while declaring the summit opened, said agriculture remained the surest way of diversifying the nation’s economy, adding that if the nation could harness its agricultural potential, it would be able to feed 50 per cent of Africans.
Osinbajo said steps had been taken by the Federal Government to ensure that the new drive was achieved, especially as Niger State has all the available resources to feed half of Africa.
He commended the steps taken by the Niger State government to attract investors and harness the state’s economic potentials, adding that state governments needed to do more to compliment Federal Government’s efforts, especially in infrastructure development.
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who spoke on the same issue, said it was time for the country to go full blast into agriculture for survival.
He said: “If there is anything to take us out of recession and to lift Nigeria up, it is agribusiness and not oil or minerals because it is the renewable business that we can do to sustain and give us all the job creation and wealth creation we need in the country.
“Agricultural business is the only way to get us out of the mess but there must be availability of funds. The banks must give interest rates that are conducive for agricultural development and to give interest rates of double digits is already a pointer to failure except the banks want farmers to grow cocaine to pay back the interest placed on the loans.”
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to draw up policies that would reduce the interest rate being charged by banks on farmers seeking loans.
Speaking in the same vein, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), also urged banks to cut down their interest rate and come up with new rates that would encourage farmers to draw loans for their farming.
According to him, this will consequently boost food production for internal consumption and export.
On his part, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, who was the host, said the investment summit was a paradigm shift towards facing the realities of the nation’s current economic challenges to diversify from the dependence on oil revenues to agriculture.
He said the summit was a deliberate way of opening the state to the global community and showcase its potentialities of investment opportunities.
Sultan calls for devolution of ‘dams’, not restructuring
The Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday, called on Nigerians to focus on devolution of ‘dams’ rather than restructuring the country.
He made the call at Niger State Investment Summit in Minna, which attracted economic experts, industrialists and manufacturers as well as some state governors across the country.
The summit was organised by the state government to attract investors in various fields to boost the state’s economy.
The Sultan said the nation was blessed with human and mineral resources needed to achieve greatness, adding that the Shiroro Dam in Niger, Goronyo Dam in Sokoto and several others across the country should be used to start all-year farming.
He said proper utilisation of the nation’s dams would enable farmers produce assorted food crops for both local consumption and export.
He said: “Rather than the clamour for restructuring the country, emphasis should be on Federal Government releasing dams across the country to state governments for massive participation of Nigerians in all-year farming seasons.
“We have the ability and technical knowledge to feed the continent with what we can produce, with the required political commitment, through the provision of modern farming implements for our teeming farmers.”
On his part, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State commended Osinbajo for providing purposeful leadership for the political growth of the country.
He said state governors would continue to support and cooperate with the Federal Government for peace, progress and political growth of the country.