Says amount not part of Agric 2020 budget
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Wednesday, kicked against the N13 billion approved by the Federal Government to fight quelea birds, locusts, and grasshoppers.
This was contained in a statement signed by the National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, and made available to Vanguard.
According to the statement, the information is tantamount to gross indiscipline and gross misconduct by any public officer who perpetrated it as the public domain is awash with dismay as to the basis for this kind of talk by the ‘driver’ of the Nigerian food system.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government last week Friday disclosed that N13 billion has been approved as intervention fund to fight quelea birds, locusts, grasshoppers and other pests in 12 States of the north which include Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe and Borno, following the invasion of desert locusts in East Africa and the Middle East.
The statement reads in part, “That Nigeria is going to spend N13 billion to fight quelea birds, locusts and pests is not provided for in the 2020 budget and therefore unappropriated by the NASS.
“For this kind of information to be churned out to the public tantamount to gross indiscipline and gross misconduct by any public officer who perpetrated it.
“The public domain is awash with consternation as to the basis for this kind of talk by the driver of the Nigerian food system.
“The farmers are at a loss when this kind of information comes out especially when they are struggling to access their farms due to insecurity.
“For the farmers who are not sure of even being able to produce anything to wake up to the realization that the government is planning to spend this kind of money on a perceived problem even before it rears its head is nebulous.
“The question we are asking is how the government came to the decision to expend this colossal sum to protect farm produce whose quantum is indeterminate “because its cultivation has not even commenced and there is no veritable data to rely on in forecasting what it will actually amount too.
“For any policy driver to come up with this shows that they are not in firm control of what is happening in the Agriculture space or they are hell-bent on defrauding the food system from the onset.”
Meanwhile, AFAN called on National Assembly leadership to summon a stakeholder hearing to appraise approval of the N13 billion that it alleged was not part of the 2020 Budget.
“The National Assembly is at this point called upon to summon a stakeholder hearing to appraise this matter. At the end of this hearing, the government should be advised to reappraise the performance of the drivers of Agriculture in Nigeria.
“The issues bordering on the food system leading to food security are germane especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic that has terribly impacted the health and economic sectors of the Nation.
However, the statement also acknowledged and applauded efforts and concerns of President Muhammadu Buhari on the promotion of agriculture for food security and national development as it will be unpatriotic of the association to keep quiet.
“While we applaud the efforts and concern of President Buhari on the promotion of Agriculture for food security and National development it will be unpatriotic to keep quiet in the face of this obtuse and reductive appraisal of an integral component of the National Food System”, it pointed.
The statement also cautioned and called on the Buhari-led administration to quickly come up with a directorate that would be in charge of the food security architecture.
“We call on the Administration to quickly evolve a directorate to take charge of the attainment of food security in Nigeria at the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic to avert food shortage that can lead to the collapse of the whole governance system of our dear country”, it added.