… explains high cost of local rice
By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA– The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed has charged the Head of Service of the Federation and Permanent Secretaries to educate the public on the achievements of the present administration.
The Minister threw the charge on Thursday, when the Head of Service led a delegation of some Permanent Secretaries to pay a courtesy visit to him in his office in Abuja.
The minister said the administration has achieved so much within the past three years it has been in the saddle but accused the civil servants of de-marketing the government’s by failing to share the information with the public.
‘‘In Ease of Doing Business, we have moved from to 169 from 145.
We have diversified the economy. These are things we need to share as civil servants. We are government; we are the face of the government. What are you doing? We have done a lot.
‘‘How many Nigerians are aware of the fact that we feed 7.5m pupils every school day, across 24 states? They have one meal a day, what that means is that even at N70 per meal, which is N490bn every day.
‘‘What has that earned us, it has increased school enrolment by 12% in certain states.
‘‘It does more than that. It helps the retention of the ability of children. In 10 years’ time, we will realize we have done so much through the 1 meal a day for school pupils.
‘‘We have also equipped some with healthcare and provision of computer sets. We have given out 259,000 loans to various cooperatives.
‘‘In our Conditional Cash Transfer, we have empowered 400, 000 people. These are things we have done within three years.’’
‘‘These are things we need to share as civil servants. You are supposed to defend yourselves and you can justify your work.
‘‘Those who are complaining are those elites, and those whose supply and access to easy funds have been affected by this administration.
‘‘Extra 7m rice farmers know what this government is doing; the 7.5m school children and their parents know what this government is doping.
‘‘We must not allow them to overwhelm us. Never under-estimate the power of the foolish man, especially when they are many,’’ the minister said.
On power, Mohammed said the administration has increased the generation from 2,690MW to 7,000MW of power but cannot transmit 2,000MW because of the poor infrastructure of the distribution companies.
He however, said work was going on to get people to invest in the power sector.
On roads, he said, ‘‘we took N100bn Sukuk loan and we are now, on 25 roads in 6 geo-political zones of the country.’’
In the agricultural sector, the minister said government had done a lot but needs to give more subsidies to farmers in order to bring down price of farm produce.
Mohammed, insisted that government must do more to empower farmers through a holistic subsidy package to drive the agriculture revolution plan.
‘‘In Europe, governments pay a farmer 6 Euro per day for every Cow, which means in a year, farmers will collect 2000 Euro on a cow. And that is why it was possible for them to export their dairy products at a cheaper price than our own.
‘‘Through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, we have increased Paddy Rice production from 3% to 7 metric tons per year. Through the Anchor Borrowers Programmes, we have been able to increase the number of rice farmers from 5 million to 11m.
‘‘Through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, we have been able to bring about agricultural revolution because before, people used to lease their lands to people to go and farm, but today nobody lease his land.
When people say, what are you people doing about agriculture, I think it is important for us to say what this government is doing.’’
On why our local rice is expensive, he also blamed it on insufficient subsidy package and called on government to increase subsidy to rice farmers.
‘‘An imported bag of 50kg of rice costs N16-20,000. The local rice today costs about N15, 000 because the farmer in Thailand or India gets subsidy right from seedling to processing.
‘‘In India, every rice miller is given 40% of his rice mill once he starts operation but women are given 45%. So that by the time the rice gets here, we cannot be competing with them.
‘‘We must also continue to subsidize our own farmers.
‘‘The only way governments: local, states and federal can go about it is we must continue to offer subsidy on agriculture,’’ he said.