By Dirisu Yakubu
A big-time farmer and member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Shittu Mohammed has called on the President Mohammadu Buhari-led government to take deliberate steps to avert the looming food crisis now staring the country in the face in the wake of increasing security challenges in the land.
Shittu gave the warning when he appeared on the Arise Television Morning Show programme monitored by our correspondent.
According to him, millions of farmers including himself are finding it almost impossible to tend their farms as a result of the activities of Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers, who in the past few weeks have killed hundreds of Nigerians.
He said: “We are looking at this issue as a joke but this is something that can cause food scarcity in Nigeria.
“What I want to urge us as farmers, as Nigerians is that we should not politicise what is happening today.
“If by next year, we are unable to go to our farms and we don’t have sufficient food, coupled with COVID-19, and we can’t import food, where shall we be?
“Can our silos which house food take us for a year or two? The answer is no. A few months from now, there will be a food crisis and in order to avert that, all of us must join hands together to deal with this problem.
“To do this, we must look at the root cause. Government must invest in the security and welfare of the people.”
He narrated his experience thus: “As a farmer, it is saddening what is happening in Nigeria. In the past five years, we’ve been able to develop over 5, 000 hectares in Swashi with the hope that we can contribute to the growth of agricultural industrialization.
“But with what is happening now, it very sad. As I am talking to you now, I cannot go to Swashi now, which is in New Bussa; even here in Wagu in Niger state by Gurara, I can’t go there because my family told me recently that look, “you can’t go out of this place.”
“They said if I get kidnapped, what will they do? This is the same story with millions of other farmers.
“Today, security and welfare of the people are getting eroded. We should stand up as a people and get solution to this.
“The root cause of this problem is poverty and this is due to the lack of employment opportunity for the young ones. The young ones are roaming about without jobs.
“The Nigerian government must come up with deliberate policies to provide employment opportunities for them (the unemployed).
“The advantages we have are enormous. In terms of mineral resources (aquatic, agriculture, and solid minerals), we have them in abundance.
“We must start fashioning our economic programmes in line with our culture and beliefs. Same goes for our political system. The capitalism we opted for is killing us because it has no room for welfarism.
“We sold our companies between 1999 and 2007 and yet, they are not working.
“Only recently, I took delivery of maize seedlings from Zaria but can I go and plant them? The answer is no. I am saddened. I can say that I am not happy as a farmer, I am not happy as a Nigerian,” he lamented.