On the appointment of agric minister

President Muhammadu Buhari

Whoever has insight on how powerful an “Executive” seat is, especially the office of the president, one will not doubt what President Muhammadu Buhari did recently by transferring former environment minister to the agriculture ministry. No one can question the legality of the action or the terms and conditions that warrant such transfer. In fact, one may even overlook it, because it’s normal.

Let me begin by congratulating the newly appointed minister of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Muhammad Mahmud Abubakar, who hails from Kaduna South local government area of Kaduna state.

For the sake of clarity and further reference, let me briefly state the historical background of the the agriculture ministry and some of its responsibilities.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development emerged in 1967 along with the creation of 12 states from four regions in post independent Nigeria; each state has its own ministry of agriculture and natural resources.

The ministry is responsible for various roles involving national goals of rural development, food security, rural income growth and job creation. The ministry fulfils its responsibilities through its departments and parastatals. It also supervises and provides funding for research institutes.
The institutes include the National Root Crops Research Institute, National Animal Production Research Institute,
National Veritenary Research Institute, among others.

However, let us look at the details of some past ministers of agriculture and rural development.

Akinwumi Adesina (Oyo state): was born on February 6, 1960. He obtained his BSc in agricultural economy, MSc and PhD in the same field. Between 1990 and 1995 he served as a senior economist at West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Ivory Coast. He became the minister of agriculture in 2010 and exited in 2015.

Abba Sayyadi Ruma (Katsina state): was born in March 1962. He has BA history, Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy and PhD international relation. He was chairman of Batsari local government area in Katsina state and secretary to the government of Katsina state all in 2003. In 2005, he was appointed state minister of education and 2007 briefly became the minister of education and later appointed minister of agriculture and water resources.

Although some might question his last appointment as the agriculture minister, because his field of specialisation didn’t match his portfolio, but his appointment paid off. In 2008, he warned that Nigeria was facing food crisis, and introduced centralising fertilizer which boosted the nation’s rural development.

Audu Ogbeh (Benue state): was born in July 1947. He studied at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and University of Tolance France. Ogbeh has similarity with Ruma in terms of career, because he also spent most of his time in politics. Ogbeh taught at the Institute of Education ABU. He was the deputy speaker, Benue State House of Assembly. From 1982-1983 he was minister of information and briefly became the minister of steel and development and moved to agricultural consultancy.

Ogbeh became the PDP national chairman in 2001 and resigned in 2005. In 2016, he managed a farm called Efugo Farms that engaged 20,000 farmers in some states. The farm produced groundnut oil, hatching of fish and chicken, broiler production and castor oil, He became the minister of agriculture in 2015.

Sabo Nanono (Kano state): was born in April,1946. He obtained his BSc in Business Administration, MSc in Public Policy Administration. He started his career as a clerk in Central Bank of Nigeria. He was planning officer in Kano state government, university lecturer from 1973-1978,. He worked at the New Nigeria Development Company as senior executive, before he was appointed as the minister of agriculture.

The appointment of Dr Muhammad Mahmud Abubakar as a minister of agriculture and rural development seems to be a controversial, because his appointment doesn’t have any correlation with his record, he has never worked in the agriculture sector.

To justify my preference, let me highlight his background. Dr Abubakar was born in December 1958. He obtained his first degree in microbiology, MSc in natural resources management, PhD in Watershed management.

Mahmud served as environmental health inspector University of Arizona, environmental service Los Angeles, environmental professional (industrial hygienist) California, director planning, research and evaluation Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency.
I hope the aforementioned clearly justify my assertion.

The newly appointed agriculture minister was first appointed as the minister of environment from 2019 – August, 2021, from September 2021 to date as the minister of agriculture. His appointment followed the sacking Nanono.
In the history of agriculture, no minister’s appointment has been undesirable, because they are either appointed based on their field of specialisation or experience, except Abubakar. This alone will tell you how powerful and sensitive the sector is.

Let me conclude by asking some questions: How can a person who has no idea of how the ministry operates lead a whole ministry? Is agriculture sector set to fail? Why can’t Mr President maintain the tradition?

Abubakar Muhammad Sani,
[email protected]

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