Nigerian Politicians often identify the need for the country to reduce her dependency on Crude oil and agree that Agriculture provides a sustainable destination. Yet, nothing is done despite their continuous promises and poor reforms.
In my opinion, Africa has suffered the most in the area of political leadership and I cannot agree more that her big brother – Nigeria, tops the list in this regard. It is disheartening to admit that no Nigerian leader falls in the same category as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela of South Africa, Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara of Burkina Faso and Kwame Nkruma of Ghana. What this oil-rich and resource laden country has in excess however, are a bunch of power hungry politicians who take advantage of public office to loot and enrich their generations unborn.
The leadership deficit in Africa and Nigeria in particular is not the absence of individuals with knowledge and/or experience - no, far from it! Rather, it is greed and a complete lack of empathy. If Africa is to be liberated, then Nigeria – a country blessed with crude oil, arable land, favourable weather/climate, numerous natural resources and manpower of over 160 million must do more in setting a standard for others to follow. She must harness her rich potentials by embracing Agriculture in order to have a more stable economy and provide food for both her population and other nations around her, rather than continue to pay cheap lip service on the issues of economic diversification.
The promise of economic diversification through Agriculture is as old as Nigeria itself and is a popular catch phrase for politicians seeking public offices in the country. The average Nigerian politician believes in the infamous quote by one of the greatest tyrants that ever lived - Adolf Hitler, that “If you wish the sympathy of broad Mosses, then you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things”. It appears the constant promise of economic diversification falls into this category. Every Nigerian leader since 1960 has promised to diversity the country’s economy by shifting its dependency from crude oil to Agriculture, but none has done anything tangible in making this happen.
From General Obasanjo's Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) in 1976 to Shehu Shagari's Green Revolution in 1980 till date, nothing tangible has been done to channel a path for Nigeria from Crude oil dependency to Agriculture.
Nigeria’s current president, Muhammad Buhari won the elections in 2015, ousting an incumbent president for the first time in the country’s history; and one of his promises was to completely diversify the country’s economy so that she would shift dependence on crude oil revenue. This was fueled by the claims that the money generated between 2009 and 2014 when crude oil sold for an average of 100 USD per barrel (an all time high) was looted by the administration, and this was coming at a time when the country was suffering as a result of a drastic fall in oil price to as low as 40 USD per barrel, leading to massive international borrowing to fund the budget and pay salaries.
Although Buhari successfully identified the problem of Nigeria as the over dependable on crude oil revenue; and like every other president before him, promised to channel the country into the path of agriculture - which will prevent the economic uncertainty crude oil market value dependency posed. He has done very little or nothing to make this happen.
He had said if elected, his party would transform the country through Agriculture and ‘send everyone back to the farm’. This, he said will help create 720,000 jobs in each of the 36 states yearly (i.e. 2.88 million jobs in his first tenure). There were also the promises of a 300billion Naira regional agricultural growth fund (N50bn in each geo-political region), guaranteed minimum price on selected crops, and facilitate storage of agricultural products by buying excess produce from farmers.
Now to the big question - What has been done so far? Over two and half years into his tenure, Nigeria is still fully dependent on sales of crude oil, with the country officially declared recessed between 2016 and 2017 as a result of the massive fall in oil prices due to the activities of ISIS.
Like others before him, he is seeking re-election for a second tenure in order to deliver on his promises to ‘diversify the country’s economy through Agriculture’. Another reason why his promises were bought in 2015 was because he was believed to be a farmer himself, whom reports claimed has a cattle ranch. But again, it was yet another political propaganda and just another politician feeding off Hitler’s infamous principle.
Since May 29, 2015 when he was inaugurated till date, there is not a single government owned farm, Food Bank or 'new' agricultural facility anywhere in the country - and none under construction. The sad truth remains the fact that no one has an answer to the simplest question about Nigeria and Africa in general - “Why do African leaders identify the problem, know the solution and yet do nothing to solve it?"
The next general elections are around the corner and we will again be fed with the usual propaganda of the age long promise of diversifying the country’s economy through agriculture. I believe the time to act is now; we need to hold our elected leaders accountable in delivering their campaign promises and demand workable blueprints from aspiring leaders before casting our votes.
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