By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Farmers under the auspices of Concerned Members of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, CMAFAN, Sunday, wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, which the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, was accused of alleged interference and antagonism.
The letter with the subject ‘The Need To Check The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, For Nigeria To Be Food Secure’, was signed by President AFAN, Architect Kabir Ibrahim and National Executive, and 32 State Chapter Chairmen and Executives of AFAN.
According to them as stakeholders in the agricultural sector, it has become imperative for President Buhari to know about certain actions by Nanono that threaten food production and availability, which his (Buhari) administration strives to achieve self-sufficiency in most of the value chains in the sector.
They also accused the Minister of making moves to jeopardize gains made so far by farmers, especially in the wake of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic,
By this, they alleged that the Minister is causing a lot of damage to the status quo by trying to muddle affairs of AFAN, as far as the association’s elections are concerned.
According to them, the Minister is promoting the fragmentation of AFAN by throwing his weight behind persons not officially elected and inaugurated but are parading themselves as AFAN officials.
They also referred to the recent inauguration by the Minister of Joint Technical Task Team on the easy movement of foodstuff and farm inputs during the period of lockdown to combat COVID-19 in the country by allegedly appointing persons they called renegades into the task force as representatives of AFAN.
They made it clear to the Minister that AFAN election is not a political election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and nobody is smuggled through the back door to emerge winner and take overpower.
According to the group AFAN election is done right from the ward, 774 local government areas, 36 States of the federation including the Federal Capital before the national level, which takes many years to conclude, unlike the general political elections INEC conducts, because farmers at the grassroots are the electorates, and disclosed that elections the association started in July 2018 are yet to be concluded, which 33 States now have elections their elections conducted and concluded, then when it gets to the national level whoever is interested and eligible should come up to contest as an eligible candidate now that the national electoral committee is in place, and not through the back door to emerging, President and national executive officers, which the Minister should support anybody of his choice and not through the back door to allegedly remove officially inaugurated national executive.
it will be recalled that the Ibrahim-led AFAN National Executive was inaugurated in 2014 by the current Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, alongside the former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, in Dutse, after elections were conducted, winners declared at the levels of the association including the national level, which Senator Adamu handed over to Architect Kabir Ibrahim as the duly elected National President of AFAN.
The letter reads in part: “OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
AFAN/ HMA/ FMARD/presidency/ 2020/01
25th April, 2029
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
The Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Three Arms Zone,
No Farmer, No Nation!
THE NEED TO CHECK THE HMA, ALHAJI MUHAMMAD SABO NANONO, FOR NIGERIA TO BE FOOD SECURE
As stakeholders in Agriculture, we write to draw the attention of the Government to certain actions by the HMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, that are inimical to the attainment of food sufficiency in Nigeria.
The gains made so far will be lost especially during this trying period in the global economy.
The farmers are doing their utmost to ensure food sufficiency despite the lockdown to the COVID-19 pandemic but the HMA is busy working against their efforts by antagonizing them.
AFAN is an NG0 and has been having a very cordial relationship with all the Ministers of Agriculture since it was founded in 2002.
The then administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo brought three tendencies of farmer associations namely FOFAN, NFAN, and PFAN under an umbrella called ALFAN and later AFAN.
After this amalgamation Admiral Murtala Nyako who led PFAN emerged the President, Chief Coker who led NFAN became Deputy National
President 1 and Dr. Shettima Mustapha who led FOFAN became Deputy National President 2.
When Admiral Murtala Nyako joined politics, Chief Coker became Acting National President while Dr. Shettima Mustapha continued as his Deputy.
Dr. Shettima Mustapha was suddenly made a cabinet Minister by President Umar Musa Yar’adua and AFAN was handed over to HE Abdullah Adamu, the Chairman Board of Trustees of NAFN ( National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria) with the proviso of amending the AFAN constitution, Convening a General Assembly of Farmers( GAF) and finally conducting a general election from the Ward, Local Government to National Level.
We became the offshoot of this Amalgam as leaders duly elected and inaugurated in Dutse in June 2014.
We were elected as set out in the AFAN constitution and not appointed by any Government organ.
The current HMA is causing a lot of damage to the status quo by trying to muddle in the affairs of AFAN which is not a department in his Ministry.
The HMA once served as an appointed caretaker chairman of AFAN in Kano State at one time and suffered some humiliation when he took the Board of Trustees of AFAN to court to continue in office illegitimately.
The case was thrown out and a proper election was conducted and State Executives were duly elected and inaugurated.
His displeasure with AFAN is now manifest since he is trying to promote the fragmentation of AFAN by throwing his weight behind unelected people parading themselves as AFAN officials.
The renegades trying to scuttle the peaceful atmosphere in AFAN supported by the HMA are the people he has appointed to represent AFAN in the task force to ensure the seamless movement of Agricultural produce, seeds, inputs, agrochemicals and farmers to access their farms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elected leadership of AFAN is against this interference and will not hesitate to pursue legal action to redress this after the COVID-19 pandemic, when the courts resume sitting, to resolve the impasse.
The Minister being meddlesome has taken sides with the so-called caretaker committee because their leader is from his home state of Kano.
He should be called to order before he causes havoc in the food system of the Nation by creating serious instability among the farmers.
We decided to write this letter to you so that the matter will not adversely affect the morale of the farmers and make the food system to suffer serious disruptions at these difficult times when the price of oil is at its lowest ebb in the international market.
A hiccup in the food system will cause undue turbulence in the national security.
The HMA is a farmer and a one-time caretaker committee chairman in Kano State knows full well the effect of instability in the affairs of an NGO like AFAN.
He was sacked as Caretaker chairman because of acts of impropriety during the tenure of Governor Shekarau and lost the court action he instituted because he was not duly elected.
The evidence of that incident supported by a court ruling is hereby attached for scrutiny.
He has an ax to grind with AFAN that’s why he is not amenable to work with the legitimately elected leadership but some illegally appointed caretaker committee.
He has not shown any sign of driving Nigeria’s Agriculture to any appreciable level beyond where he met it.
Mr. President may recall the HMA’s refusal to attend the Argungun fishing festival, his disruption of the status quo in the Ministry, his appointment of an SA who is not an Agriculturist, his greed in alienating his HMS and running the Ministry as if it is his personal property.
For the first time, the budget defense of the FMARD was thrown into ridicule when the HMA could not answer questions bordering on the thrust of the budget when he was asked.
The Permanent Secretary had to offer some explanations to save the situation.
It is quite obvious that the whole Ministry is having its own share of instability where some directors are doing the work of others.
The HMA is not looking at his responsibility of overseeing Agriculture in all parts of Nigeria that’s why he is yet to take a state by state tour of the country to encourage the farmers and to fully appreciate what needs to be done to consolidate the gains made before his appointment.
He is constantly around Kano as if he is the Minister of Kano State Agriculture instead of Nigeria as a whole.
The President is invited to draw the attention of the HMA to discharge the responsibilities of his office creditably well instead of engaging in matters that will jeopardize the attainment of food sufficiency in Nigeria despite the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government should treat Agriculture as the only viable economic alternative in the face of the scourge the world is dealing with and take proactive decisions to ensure Nigeria’s survival.
We hope this will be helpful to Nigeria and we look forward to working with the Government to make our country even greater.
Great Farmer, Great Nation!