…Gives S’West govs 21 day ultimatum on blueprint
By Dayo Johnson
THE Agbekoya Farmers Association in the South West has bemoaned the state of agriculture in the region. The association, however, issued a 21days ultimatum to the six Southwest Governors to come up with a blueprint on their states’ Agricultural Transformation Programme.
The President of Agbekoya, Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola, expressed worry that agriculture, which used to be the mainstay of the economy of Southwest and Nigeria, has been experiencing a systematic decline in the last 30 years in the hands of Southwest Governors.
He said: “It is unfortunate that those, who have prided themselves as the political heirs of Awolowo and the Awo ideology have failed to carry on the governance pattern that would extend Awolowo’s Agricultural legacy to the six Southwestern states of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos and Osun states. We must not forget in a hurry how the government of late chief Awolowo made Agriculture the pivot of Southwestern region economy and how he successfully organized farmers into functional cooperative movements, especially around the cocoa farmers’ marketing cooperative.”
He also reiterated that the concept of farm settlements and agricultural extension workers have all disappeared from the agricultural plans and landscape of Southwestern states.
Besides, he lamented that agriculture has been over politicized by the Southwest state governors, to the extent that Agbekoya farmers, whom late Obafemi Awolowo used to build the economic foundation of the region, hardly now get assistance from state governments in the area of loans, fertilizer, insecticides, improved seedlings, tractors and other agricultural machinery for land clearing and harvesting.
He said: “Farmers are also contending with poor rural roads through which farm produce and foodstuffs are conveyed from farms to the markets, thereby, making transportation of farm products and foodstuffs more expensive.
Okikiola, however, warned that Agbekoya Farmers and the coalition of farmers Association under its umbrella “will no longer fold their arms watching the systematic decline of the agricultural sector to continue.”
He said: “We have written two letters to the Southwest Governors in the last four years on the state of agriculture in Southwest, without any response from them. Given this, we are giving 21days ultimatum to the six Southwest Governors during which we are expecting them to respond to our letters and also come out with a blueprint on their states’ Agricultural Transformation Programme.
“If nothing is done, Agbekoya and the coalition of farmers Association in Southwest, will stage public rallies to protest over the declining state of Agriculture in the six-state capitals of Southwest.”