Agriculture has been historically recognized and acknowledged as the most legitimate and labour incentive source of generating incomes for sustainable livelihoods, food security and self sufficiency ,since the dawn of human civilization.
This tradition has made agricultural pursuits and farming to stand out as the most popular and spiritually fulfilling vocation and ordained occupation of human choice and an economically rewarding investment platform in the world, since the days of Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, which others coin as Garden of Bliss.
In fact, Nigeria and Nigerians depended on agriculture and farming, as their favorite vocation of preference and relevance.
That dominant status made it the nation’s live wire, before the discovery of fossilized Petroleum products.
Many of the social and developmental historians confirm, that, Nigeria’s vast land mass was the major natural blessings that largely excited, attracted,seduced, and tempted the British colonialists “to invade the country,” as it were, and transformed it into their main supply conduits; to feed their budding economic empire, triggered by the emerging industrial revolution and the competitive quests for trade expansion outlets and territorial monopoly, throughout out Europe, against their European and other global rivals,using Nigeria’s diverse agricultural produce, as handy raw materials for their textile mills and other manufacturing industries and companies, in those early years of imperial powers.
To actualize and sustain this economic mission, Northern Nigeria was targeted as a critical location and most viable agrarian environmental hub they identified, as an ideal command post, convenient for their British support commercial cartels to thrive at the time,due to its vast and limitless resources.
It is an important raisons d’etre and valid logical conclusion to also assert the obvious facts, that, given these prevailing dimensions and comparative exposure and proactive advantages, our founding fathers were not ignorant nor unaware about the auspicious role and strategic importance of agriculture, as an organic economic stimulant and profound promoter of grassroot prosperity, as well as its attendant rapid socioeconomic empowerment impacts in the larger society.
This could easily be attested to , by the presence of numerous agricultural ventures and infrastructures bequeathed to us by our past leaders, which they had expected us, as their loyal and responsible heirs, to reconstruct, fast track,as well as developmentally introduce our own visionary modules, modifications and modus operandi to qualitatively enhance their scientific and technological thresholds.
It is gratifying to note here, some of the most laudable agricultural inspired achievements and set pieces in Nigeria.
These include the magnificent Cocoa House in Ibadan, which for me, remains an incredibly unique edifice,which only a great thinker with a passionate and sympathetic mindset for the rural farmers, like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, could have metaphorically engraved, as an iconic visual epitaph, to glorify the importance of agriculture and magnify the dignity of agricultural labour, as well as the towering status of all farmers, not only in Nigeria but across all the nooks and crannies of the deprived world of the peasant farmers.
The same passion gave birth to Sardauna’s legendary groundnuts sculptured pyramids,poised as super architectural towers, hovering over the skylines of ancient city of Kano like the elegant ancient Egyptian pharoahnic original it adopted its identity from, which site now hosts the imposing erstwhile Bank of the North Towers in that ancient city of commercial fame.
Moreover, as an evidence to project this opinion, this historical overview of our past agricultural efforts in the country will vindicate and showcase the shining examples of how our forebears made agriculture and farming, their topmost business preoccupations.
The construction of multipurpose River Basins, Dams and Farm Mechanization Centres,plus Irrigation Technology Incubation Masterpieces, conceived and constructed to meet our local needs and promote agricultural growth and services through maximizing our numerous water resources outlets in the country, since the North was politically structured and carved into provinces,were developed by the great Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Northern Nigeria’s First Premier: informed by his burning desire, leadership drive and passion to prove his commitments towards reducing the prosperity barriers of the rural poor in the North,” a place with the highest population of the wretched poor beggars, itinerant Almajiri hordes and other unacceptable brands of abandoned, uncared and unguided multitudes,” in the country, at large.
The Yandev Farm Centre in Gboko, Benue State, in North Central part of Nigeria is a living example of this Gamji broad agenda for food security and rural farmers empowerment legacy. The people and government of Benue State deserve a national honour, as the most responsible community for keeping Sardauna’s passion and hope alive and deservedly, earned the honours of being called “Farmer’s Kingdom,” and the state covetously crowned “The Food Basket Of The Nation.”
This Sardauna’s passion and emphatic sympathy for the rural peasants led to the establishment of his Rural Agricultural Development Scheme, which were eventually inherited and adapted by other generations of leaders, from General Gowon’s Dams and integrated Irrigation Technology Projects, using Bagauda and Tiga Dams in Kano, as take off models.
Thereafter, each succeeding government fused and regularized additional features; from Shagari’s Green Revolution programmes, General Obasanjo’s Operation Feed the Nation-OFN formular, chronologically upgraded and improved upon, up to General Babangida’s innovative and trendy inputs.
Unfortunately, death had robbed the country of President Umar Musa Yaradua’s celebrated inputs, conceived as one of the most elaborately defined and imaginatively designed community targeted and comprehensively fashioned, all year round and multipurpose agric scheme, tagged RAISE, an enchantingly promising acronym that stands for, Raising Agricultural Inputs In A Sustainable Environment.
It was conceived to service all the over 25-30 River Basins water resources clustered farming environments throughout the country; and to be nourished and natured by some integrated and self sustaining backed up nucleus of educational, health delivery, power generating and marketing centre, as well as, pools of preservation and storage facility systems,” harmonized as an agricultural, one spot value chain rural plaza complex” with elaborate living accommodations, training camps,designed to global standards with irrigation and extension services field facilities, for both staff, trainees and local residents, which was budgeted at 6Billion Naira per River Basin Belt in the country: nonetheless, this proposal never survived beyond its conniver’s demise, which like all the past great concepts before it, were meant to support our quest for everlasting templates that can locally enhance the capacity of our rural communities, particularly local farmers in the country.
This dream was also prematurely aborted, leaving Sayyadi Abba Ruma, a demoralised and poor Agric Minister, ending up as a mere Tax Collector and hapless Treasurer for Goodluck Jonathan’s flamboyant and bragadacious incoming Minister, Mr. S.A Adewumi, who is reported to have allegedly lavished a large chunk of the budget for his master’s sophisticated Presidential re-electioneering stunts.
All these creative dreams and lofty aspirations were neglected and sabotaged by the new incoming powers to be in the country, “which disbursed, allocated agric fund’s loans to new generations of imports certified PDP Farmers,” who made fortunes from hybridization resource conversion techniques of shortchanging agriculture with trading in fraudulent hospitality business and hotelier franchises, to smuggling of rubberized rice, frozen foods and expired juices from Asia Europe and America,even as they kept us waiting for their eloquently well publicized but illusive, cassava, or is it “Cash Over Bread”,due to sheer greed,as well as inherent corrupt manifestations and subversive indoctrination against public properties and funds by the heartless Nigerian elites, whose roots are ironically, from the same lowest and poorest social standing clans of rural peasant ancestors,like me.
Alas, their current state of ruins and dilapidations speak volumes about our developmental fatalities, as well as making them stand out, as painful embarrassments and replicas of a glorious past we have richly inherited but ignored, as a troubling curse, ushered by the evil spells of oil boom, now currently superseded by the sorrowful spectacles of obsessive legacies of PDP’S sinister regimes of lootings and insatiable cravings of plunderous orgy, under former President Goodluck Jonathan- GEF, aka, Graft and Embezzling Fraudsmaster: and the most celebrated icon of corrupt leadership in Nigeria’s political history.
Now that President Muhammadu Buhari is overwhelmed by President Goodluck Jonathan’s treacherous luggage of liabilities, caused by endemic graft and clueless management of national resources, which has left the country economically raped and socially demobilised, the new President wisely decided to identify with agriculture as his magna opus, with which he intends to use as his bailout key, to unlock Nigeria’s dormant economic recovery programme and inspire national growth and development.
But the nagging question most concerned and patriotic people from the North keep asking is; “where does the North stand ,in this new period of Buharian regime of optimistic and positive change wars of revival and survival games,” bereft of Petroleum products dole out funds?
This question is pertinently instructive and socially relevant, in order to alert our youths and get them prepared, to embrace the new Nigerian reality in agriculture, and its multifarious windows of opportunities, to equip and make them substantive business entrepreneurs that could also stand out to speak out, globally, with a confident, strong and loud voice, “as our own new version of the famous and legendary Asian Tigers.”
I am convinced, that, “where there’s will, there will always be a way.”
After all,our forefathers had prodigiously demonstrated their ingenuity and proved their prowess and business acumen to the world, during the precolonial era of trans African trades and business transactions, that, if people could only be committed, by mustering their courage to match their words, political will, tenacity of purpose, creativity and imaginative sagacity, “they can always leap high in the sky, to touch,embrace and kiss their destiny, skipping and leap frogging their perceived hurdles and imaginary barriers, by astonishingly, transforming their abstract dreams into concrete and realisable realities.”
This is universally called,”triumph of the will” and has been the organic credo that distinguishes real heroes, from ordinary spectators of the world events, otherwise called, “road shows’ idle spectators.”
In this regard, it seems to me, that, the North and its leaderships at all levels are still dosing, as chronic, unwilling and reluctant competitors, in the mould of the new South West Geopolitical Zone economic warriors, “who have been daring the developed world with their Awolowo inherited rebooting spirit, of community driven survival game plan,” which, since the reign of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the great Jagaban and mentor of mentors,as the then Governor of Lagos State, who ,with passionately visionary zeal,initiated a unified game plan with his colleagues and compatriots’ support,as they collaborated and successfully guided pragmatic agenda, to re-brand the zone by repositioning it into a formidably powerful and well equipped economic power bloc, to serve as a centre of international trade, commerce and global business transactions, in the classical visioning styles like Hong Kong, Singapore and old Beirut in the 60’s, before it’s calamitous destruction by the combined Anglo-American-French conspiracy, backed by a joint Jewish Zionists and Arabs cryptic intrigues, in the 70’s.
It is ironic to watch the rest of the country racing towards new destinations, with well conceived new set goals and declaring their resolve and determination to be active participants in the new century,which promised to be driven by Agriculture,as its indelible imprimatur, to replace the absolute carbon relics called petroleum driven culture,while the North and its ambivalent leaders are engaged in a dubious, unholy wars of primordial spite and religious bigotry!
The truth is that, it is already a new dawn in the rest of the country, where they have for long braced up to sing the new national anthem early in the morning, before the cock crows at dawn, to expose their well protected vision and insulated mission in the morning sun, leaving the North naked and in total darkness,like an anesthetized victim in deep slumber, sleepwalking, as if it were not yet morning on creation day.
The other zones are at full alert,to ward off the incoming anarchists, likely to be triggered and blindly unfolded by the new global agenda setter, American Donald Trump, unleashed by misfortune, on our uncertain planet, like their new space characters in Hollywood Cartoons, ever despicable and trigger happy, in his mindsets combat zones of science- fiction mythologies.
Let me at this juncture, advisedly warn that our honor and reputations are at stake,unless we take decisive decisions,devoid of rancorous partisanship and vainglorious ego trips, to avert a grievous and greater calamity than Boko Haram’s menacing plague!
However, though we are late in the day, all is not yet lost. Fortune may still stalk our ways, to give some encouragements in the popular attempts to assuage feelings by rebranding self- confidence and invoking new hope, as long as we act fast and right,by tightening our loin clothes, to join the race with speedy pace and enough energy, to catch up the advanced party, or even take giant steps, to outpace and overtake our rivals, with decided spirit and measured rhythms, to arrive the finished line ahead or together, as joint heroes.
Be that as it may be, let me indulge your patience, by recognition, some defining moments in our country, which will culminate in my presenting some historical evidences that were made to promote agriculture in recent times.
They served as veritable inspirations which gave me the opportunity to discover Nigeria’s potential opportunities in agriculture, by repudiating Nigeria’s twin defeats and calamities, brought about by defaulting gluts in Petroleum global markets and the PDP’s inflicted viral attacks of unrepentant corruption and unmitigated plutocracy.
In June of 2008, my Director General at NTA, Dr. Tonnie Iredia, who, for his obviously purposeful, inspirational objective and point blank constructive reasons, I also regard as one of my mentors and role models, invited me to Abuja, from Kaduna to his office in Abuja, to defend my action plans and proposed activities, which was earlier submitted in conformity with his stipulated mandatory quarterly assignment guidelines, for all NTA managerial cadre, in order to expose the organization and its staff to the global best practices in the world of broadcast journalism and the media, to interface with society, in our own case, Nigerians.
To promote collective accessibility and corporate vision and mission nationwide, for the patriotic development of positive frameworks and platforms, that enhance Nigeria’s diversity, unified worldviews and corporate national interests across all the cultural, economic and sociopolitical divides.
As it is customary with Dr. Tonnie Iredia’s irresistible goal driven tradition, he enquiringly probed to know if I was fully equipped to objectify my processes and procedures for effective implementation and efficient delivery of the identified project, or, projects successfully, as the case may be: because , Dr. Tonnie Iredia does not believe in failure, which he vehemently objects to with passion and regards it,” as a no go area for serious minded and target oriented individuals, with a driven mindset for excellence.” For him, failure is the domain of the lazy and indolent, the product of an imbibed and habitual careless culture of indoctrinated indifference to quality values and drive for excellence”.
Those of us who have worked with Tonnie Irredia appreciate his draconian intolerance against failures, which he also indoctrinated us to despise, as a major aberration people give lame excuses to, to escape their culpability “.
You have to convince him,to earn his approval and confidence, regardless of any established or perceived bond or connections.
Having briefed him satisfactorily about my proposed project, and its coefficient relevance to Nigeria’s corporate and economic interest, he gave me his seal of approval, which empowered me, to engage Admiral Environmental Care Services, a Kaduna based subsidiary of Admiral Murtala Nyako’s multipurpose Agricultural franchises, under the managerial supervision of Shadrack Madlion, a consummate agricultural Salesman and most detribalized Nigerian of IBO extraction that has blind eyes for divisive tendencies.
This was how my journey and passion for agriculture at national level got a boost,when we normalised and regularized the takeoff of a collaborative national summit on agriculture with a befitting title tagged, FIRST NTA/ ADMIRAL ENVIRONMENTAL CARE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL SUMMIT, FROM JULY 7- JULY 15,2008, AT AREWA HOUSE, KADUNA.
This historic event, conceived to be in two phases,one in the North and another in the South, due to our country’s natural but obvious agro-ecological differences and environmental diversities.
This initial arrangement was later jettisoned and forced to be collapsed into one, as a result of operational, economic and logistic encumbrances.
But, despite this abrupt changes, attendance at the Kaduna Summit was admirably impressive, with participants from virtually all the 36 States and FCT, in attendance, with almost 2-3 sponsored participants in the core areas of Animal Production, Crops Management, Irrigation Technology and Extension Services, per state, among other areas of specializations.
These unique testimonies vindicate this event to be,one of the most memorable and successfully executed landmarks agric event in Nigeria, which legacy is enshrined in the approval and announcement at the venue,of the long awaited and celebrated Federal Government /CBN, N200 Billion Naira Intervention Fund, which records could be investigated and confirmed from NTA’s rich archives in Kaduna and Abuja.
This event exposed many Nigerians,for the first time on NTA’s Live Prime time Broadcast, to discover the wide world of agriculture and its wonderful secret actors and driving force, both within and outside Nigeria; which have also equipped and enriched my knowledge of its environments.
I was privileged to know more about the success stories of Songhai Farm, the world renowned Farm Centre in Port Novo, in Benin Republic,owned by a Nigerian, Father Godfrey Nzamujo from Edo State, whose incidental but sucessful foray into agricultute and farming,were said to have been affirmatively inspired by the late President of Tanzania, Dr Julius Nyerere during an address to the Members of then African Student’s Association in the USA.
The same Suleman Abubakar, who recently became the Walin Keffi, in succession to his late father, also made me to know about our Nigerian equivalence of the Porto Novo based Songhai Farm, a modernised and world standards Leventis Foundation Farm Centre, located in Yagba, Abaji Municipality of FCT, Abuja.
It was through him, Suleman Audu Abubakar, the son of the late Walin Keffi and founder of the world class and internationally rated and acclaimed Imani Group of Companies, Alhaji Abdu Abukakar, a Sardauna disciple and pointedly, my mentor and role model, who was a passionate MKO Abiola supporter, with whom, along with the Osama of Benin, Chief Igbonidion, pioneered Nigeria’s first generation private aviation industry, in the late 70’s.
He was kind and generous enough to allow me tap on his reservoir of human virtues, by agreeing to sponsor 60 PDP Youth deserters, who according to them,were used and dumped by the evil party,who crossed over to the Congress of Progressive Change, CPC,the then ruling Party in Nasarawa State, through me.
These 60 graduates alumnus of this prestigious and highly rated and professionally driven One Year agric training Centre with a popular acronyms- LFN , Leventis Foundation Of Nigeria, Farm at Yagba, FCT are all certified farmers, ready to be employed or empowered and can be contacted for media verification or work engagements through their local Secretary, on 09092778448;07065508594; 08038685223 and local Chairman 08036488659, respectively.
This Imani Social Advocate is not yet done with me on my long journey in search for Agriculture.
He, along with Jamilu Gwamna Sardaunan Gombe and a renowned Doctoral PPP Public Private Partnership practitioner, and Scholar, trained at the prestigious Imperial College, London, were able to enlighten and educate me by curtailing my cynicism against the late President Yardau’s ambitiously conceived and multipurpose Agricultural Scheme tagged RAISE, which is an acronym for Raising Agricultural Inputs In A Sustainable Environment.
They were both professionally screened and selected Consultants and were concerned about the negative impact and injuries my adverse denigration and classifications of the project” as a white elephant project, meant to enrich Nigerian politicians who have become chronic parasites and fat cats, used to over pampering favours, from Government Treasury, would prejudicially affect public perceptions, without my carefully scrutinizing its potentials and operational viability.
Well, in spite of their strong advocacy and positive clamour, the premature demise of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua has created a vacuum and took off the shine to appreciate its profound and utilitarian impacts,leaving his predecessor,former President Goodluck Jonathan’s follow up actions, to vindicate my fears, as well as validate my curse.
At this juncture, let me also reveal some remarkable heroes who had made us to achieve this historic feat. I want to recognise the invaluable roles and contributions of Dr. Tonnie Irredia and Alhaji Usman Magawata who succeeded him.
The same gesture goes to my collaborating partner company, and its owner, Admiral Murtala Nyako, whose personal support in cash, kind and professional knowledge of agriculture motivated us, due to the sagacious drive and “can do it resolve of his manager, Mr. Shadrack Madlion”.
However, going by a renowned writer’s philosophical idioms, prescribing that when you want to draw the rainbows, you have to paint the Sun with its sparkling rays last, may I venture to use this example, as a precedent and auspicious opportunity to thank our Host Governor, Architect Namadi Sambo, whose executive and personal support uplifted the event to its peak of national and international glory.
The former Niger State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, the indefatigable Chief Servant, Alhaji Aliyu Bangida Aliyu, as well as the former Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and our Distinguished benevolent Senators George Akume, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, whose support for Youth empowerment came to me accidentally, through my habits of engaging young Northern entrepreneurs, some of whom I met at Bagauda Bridge Fish and Kitchen Market, along Kano-Zaria Road
The leading patron of voiceless peasant farmers in the Senate and in Nigeria at large, Distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Sarkin Yakin Keffi, must be acknowleged for his numerous agricultural roles and deserve our accolades, for his scarfice and social engineering feats at the grassroot. He was recognised by several Fulani groups for his generous sponsorships of their youth to undergo modern training in artificial insemination for livestock breedings.
Out venerable Elder Statesman and business icon, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur made his presence at the Summit, an unforgettable history. My last but not the least appreciation goes to former Governor of River State, Chief Rotimi Ameachi, now President Buhari’s Transport Minister, who reacted to our summit, by organising his own version and drafting his South-South compatriot and owner of Songhai Farm, Father Godfrey Njazumo,” to help him save his people from imminent and possible starvation, by starting to look inwards,” should the North renege from feeding them with their farm produce,” his exact lip sync sound bites and articulated comments, during his Live TV speech at a specially organised Town Hall Session with his Business and Professional Groups,in the State, convened as a reaction to our aborted prorata arrangement to host our NTA/ADMIRAL AGRIC SUMMIT in Kaduna and Portharcourt, respectively but which were negated at the time; due to operational, financial and logistic impediments.
Let me use this opportunity, to say it loud and clear, to those who care to listen,believe or disbelieve,that Chief Rotimi Ameachi’s tenacity and definite idiosyncrasies are the factors that define and inspire success,through bold initiatives and courageously prescribed objective vision and mission.
As of today and factorised by our Summit which inspired reactions and complimentary frameworks by all stakeholders, River State and the whole of the South-South Zone have become a transformed new agricultural destinations, with greater and bigger international export clout. This is the message and goal of our Summit, to encourage people to set Agenda, with broad inputs locally and internationally, not by foreign dogmatic indoctrination and domination, as the case is, in some places, who have made themselves vineyards for Asian, Europe and American Pilferers!
Now the big question people may venture to ask me, is:, why did I have to subject them to this lengthy narrative?
This is a crucial time in Nigeria and this question couldn’t have come at a more critical period in our national life.
Therefore, I deliberately made this presentation lengthy, so as to ask or instigate some fundamental issues, or fundamental questions and to subject all of, both leaders and followers, to account for our deeds and actions and appraise our outcomes, collectively.
I want to start by first appealing to our leaders in Nigeria, especially here in the North, that leadership is a special and spiritual assignment , favoured by God, to uplift people to a new level of prosperity, which reward is by God in his Divine Throne, in the Day of Recompense. That is why, in His Holy books, to mankind God had revealed his reasons and mission, pointedly for creating us, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews or whatever we decide to oblige our fancy or free will.
If we are truly conscious and aware about divine powers and authority, we must confess and voluntarily admit, that we have never had it so bad in this country, like in the last 6-8 years of Goodluck Jonathan’s era, as we remorseful look back.
It is also, I hope, an effort to enrich our knowledge in the North, about the gallant efforts in the other political zone, to galvanize their communities to prepare for the ominous challenges of the future, before we get trapped in its magnetic field of furious consequences and Agriculture, which was a field the North dominated an had a superior and comparative advantage is now fast slipping out of our control, because, some of our leaders in the North have become fanatically more mentally disposed and amenable to the appetising lullabies of fortune hunters, now turned expert balloon blowers, who spill their sonorous tunes of slanderous gossips and idle tales, publicly praise singing but secretly satirising their godfathers, with false and evil motivated Swan Songs, musically implanted with emotionally ego-boosting temptations that elevate to the status of Godship, from their old power status, of godfathers, even as the program of exiting Northern Agricultural monopoly is visible, except for the power drunks victims, caged by indolent under achievers in the palace, where all good dreams are now banished and aborted: while other zones get mobilised and united,to usher a new dawn of prosperity, inherited from their forefathers, to protect and empower their pated youth, from becoming creeping parasites and dog in the manger wretched underdogs, like our battalion of our abandoned Almajiris, Touts and used and dumped Political thugs, tempted and removed from their village farms, with fake and false pledges for better city life.
That is the new defining agenda, from all the geopolitical zones, who troop to invade and mop our lands, even when our herders and pastoralists are gangs assaulted, aggressively chased and massively hunted, and forced to relocate.
Yet, political hustlers never care to ask how many of their constituents and citizens have been enlisted in the CBN Websites and how much was disbursed to other zones.
They have no sympathy for our glaring exclusion and deprivations from the Anchor Borrowers Schemes, nor national funds for economic empowerment, skills acquisitions or SMEDAN. No, that is not their business.
Yet, like dogs in the manger, they are scrambling to appease the gods of Restructuring and champions of an abstract and ambiguously ambivalentl adventure that has lost it’s relevance, except for spoilers and political opportunists.
In the dark night of despair, I heard the growling voice of frustrations, from the abandoned Northern Youth, soliloquing,” Where is the sleeping giant; as they ask enquiringly, without an answer.
They now chant a new dirge,” is it time for our youth to say, Adieu Northern Nigeria and bye bye to prosperity?
Abddulkarim Muhammad Abdullahi,
Keffi, Nasarawa State.