Although President Muhammadu Buhari is steering Nigeria ingeniously some Nigerians are criticising his economic policies and playing the blame game.
Despite the multidimensional challenges afflicting the country some Nigerians are still criticising the president just because he urged them to go back to their farm with huge loans from the CBN with a view to achieving food security, creating jobs and bringing back the country’s lost glory as the food basket of the African continent.
About 20 years ago, there was a very rich businessman who had a big shop in Azare, Bauchi state. He was the wholesaler of audio and video cassettes across the seven local government areas of Bauchi North. He was living a luxury life full of tranquility and enjoyment. Due to the emergence of compact discs at that time, he was advised to diversify from selling those obsolete audio and video cassettes and embrace selling the compact discs as it has become the trending technology. Unfortunately, he turned a deaf ear to this far-sighted advice.
Few years later, he was spending a whole day without selling a single cassette as people had completely switched to compact discs. Thousands of audio and video cassettes became waste in his shop and his life became a pathetic one.
Therefore, in reality, the future of Nigeria may be similar to the foregoing narrative about businessman as long as Nigeria refuses to swiftly diversify its economy from crude oil dependence, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the country’s revenue. Crude oil will be worthless and sooner than later on account of emerging technology.
The resort to renewable energy, especially solar energy, is a warning for oil dependent nations like Nigeria to think outside the box in the wake of some international treaties aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and human-made CO2 emissions so as to mitigate global warming.
Recently, in its heroic effort to be in line with the entire international treaties on climate change aiming to put a spurt on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions being released into the global atmosphere, on July 14, 2021, the EU proposed to ban manufacturing and selling fossil-fuel engines, cars, buses, and trucks from 2035. This was disclosed by the EU’s head of climate change policy, Mr. Frans Timmermans. The crucial question here is: being a giant technology-consuming and crude-oil-dependent nation, what will actually happen to Nigeria when European nations ban manufacturing and using fuel-powered engines and vehicles?
It is worthy of note that for more than a decade, even the biggest oil producers in the Middle East that are among richest Arab countries or Gulf nations have been sparing no effort to attain scientific research capable of turning their desert sand or areas into arable land with the aim of boosting food security to bring an end of being giant consumers of the EU’s agricultural exports and avoiding incessant hazard of unstable market of the crude oil.
In July 2018, shortly after signing a cooperation agreement with the Mawarid Holding Company of the UAE, the Chongqing Jiaotong University team of China jetted off to the UAE and selected some desert in Abu Dhabi, which is one of the UAE’s seven emirates, for achieving the aforementioned mission. The research team is called the project “Desert soilization”. The head of the research team stated that many countries along the route are suffering from desertification and are in need of soilization technology. Li Tian’an, the party chief of the Chongqing Jiaotong University also said that the technology cannot only assist the UAE, but also provide a solution to the desertification issue, the “cancer of the earth”.
So, if rich country like UAE whose population is 9.99 million (2021) is going all out to turn some of its desert land or areas into farmlands scientifically with a view to achieving food security or feeding themselves, Nigerians, whose population is more than 212 million must be so grateful to their creator for bestowing a wide variety of soil including clay soil suitable for irrigation farming upon them accompanied by waterways, rivers, streams, multi-purpose dams and lakes. The pensive Nigerians must also be greatly indebted to President Buhari for coercing them to return to their farmlands and embrace dry-season farming with untiring and massive support of a vast array of agricultural policies such as Anchor Borrowers’ Programme distributing huge loans to farmers.
Since his first tenure, President Buhari has ardently been leaving no stone unturned towards taking Nigeria away from being a hooked agriculture-consuming nation to a giant agriculture-producing country. The agriculture-consuming nations around the world have suffered severe hunger brought by the COVID-19 lockdown, but fortunately Nigeria stood out among the rest as a result of PMB’s long-awaited unprecedented agricultural sector roadmap known as the Green Alternative.
The return of this land initiative is an attestation that PMB has been following in the footsteps of the OPEC and others by responding positively to a multitude of forewarnings of uncertain future on account of their overdependence on crude oil revenue and the spellbinding transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Nigeria, whose fast-growing population is projected to reach the third largest population in the world by 2050 and surpass that of China by 2100, it is now time for the country to begin re-strategizing and working out for the forthcoming exploding population.
Astutely, reflective Nigerians should commend PMB for launching the National Young Farmers Schemes (NYFS), Women in Agriculture, Back to Farm Initiative and NIRSAL National Microfinance Bank, the Bank of Agriculture and resuscitating a myriad of abandoned farm estates designed under the National Agricultural Land Development Authority initiative (NALDA) as well as his order to construct new ones across the country with the aim of invigorating Nigeria’s long-awaited economic diversification, putting a spurt on his target of lifting 100 million impoverished Nigerians out of poverty, achieving food security and striving to reclaim its lost position as a giant food basket in Africa. The Integrated Farm Estate is expected to be expanded to the 109 senatorial zones across the country.
To sum up, it is a good idea to shift from subsistence farming to commercial one. The history of the future generations will definitely write his name in golden letters for his far-sighted spirit. The young generations will surely remember and be proud of PMB as an unparalleled memorable ancestor. I pray for every patriotic leader who gives the next generation reason for hope and prosperous life.
Mustapha Baba Azare,
Alkali Musa Street, Azare,