By Bala Ibrahim.
The campaign train of the Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, took a drive to Niger state today, and specifically Minna, the state capital, where, along with his running mate, Sen. Kashim Shetima and the national chairman of the party, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, the candidate had a pleasant audience with farmers and members of the agro allied commodity community. The audience, which is part of the series of Town Hall Meetings planned by the party and the Presidential candidate, was held at the Legbo Kutigi International Events Centre Minna, with the Agro Commodities groups of Niger state.
As planned, the meeting, availed Asiwaju, the APC Presidential candidate, the opportunity to share his plans with the farmers and other agro stakeholders in the state.
Hosted by Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger state, the parley today, turned out to be an exciting engagement with another strategic sector of the Nigerian economy, pursuant to the candidate’s meeting with the Nigeria’s business leaders on Tuesday last week in Lagos.
As expected, in his speech, titled, The Path to Agricultural Self-Sufficiency”, Asiwaju emphasized the important role agriculture played in the country’s economy before the discovery of oil, by taking time to share his agenda on how he plans to build on the helpful foundation laid by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the agricultural sector. The candidate explained to the farmers of the state, which is nicknamed the breadbasket of Nigeria, how he will help them and their communities in new and significant ways that would usher in a true and complete rebirth of Nigerian agriculture.
Already, in the Action Plan of the candidate, and in line with his promises, he intends to ramp up the cultivation of the nation’s arable land from 35 percent to 65 percent, in addition to the establishment of commodity board for strategic crops, such as cashew, cocoa, cassava, soya, rubber and groundnut.
When established, the commodity board will improve price certainty for farmers and increase their capacity to produce more staple food to feed Nigeria’s rapidly increasing population.
In his opening remark, Simon Lalong, the DG presidential campaign council, said the town hall meeting is an opportunity to tell Nigerians about the renewed hope APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is bringing to Agriculture, because, the Asiwaju is poised to drive farming activities from subsistence level to mechanised farming in Nigeria. Governor Lalong said the presidential campaign council has created the Agro Commodity directorate because farmers have the numbers to decide the next president of Nigeria.
On his part, the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Turakin Keffi, one time chairman of the Senate committee on Agriculture, and the founder of Shabu Farms in Nasarawa state said Agriculture is the largest employer of labour in Nigeria. As a man with an extraordinary passion for farming, Senator Adamu said adding value to agricultural produce will move more farmers out of poverty and increase productivity.
“We are going to listen to the participants who would talk to us on what we call value chains. If you produce and cant add value to what you produce, you wouldn’t maximize the benefit of what you produced. If you get yams from your farm and you take just the raw yams to the market, you wouldn’t get a lot of money. But if you add value to what you have harvested, you would be sure to get a good reward for it. And you can do that for every commodity. So we need to sit up and encourage our farmers, because the stability of this nation depends on the success of agriculture. The projection we have in the next 20 years is that we may be in the region of 400 million people. It is not going to be a joke to feed 400 million people. So the duty rests on us APC, to reinforce the foundation that we already have in the production of agriculture. The future of Nigeria is to eat what we produce and produce what we eat. It is a shame that Nigeria’s economy is import-driven,” -Adamu.
A big boost came to the APC Presidential candidate from the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Maize Association of Nigeria, Miyetti Allah Keutal Hore, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, and the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Association of Nigeria, who, collectively announced their endorsement of his presidential ambition, right at the venue of the town hall meeting.
Accordingly, Asiwaju, who adopted the presentation by the Chairman Progressive Governors’ Forum and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, appointed the Governor to head a committee to fashion a blueprint that will help position the Agricultural sector, so that it can occupy it’s deserved pride of place in the country.