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Opinion

My Vision for Jigawa State (VII)

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Mustafa Sule Lamido

 

By: Mustapha Sule Lamido

I wish to start by commending all stakeholders who have been working round the clock to ensure that we remain on the right track. Over the past few weeks, we have been holding consultation meetings with leaders and elders from all 27 Local Government Areas of our dear state to establish a strong synergy that will enable us to finetune our policies and pass our message across to the grassroots. I commend the efforts of all volunteers working for the betterment of Jigawa State.

In the past few weeks, I have received concerns that our focus is still largely on the regular perennial issues of education, health, agriculture, water resources, etc. which every leader in Nigeria keeps talking about. Actually, I share these concerns also. In fact, I find it disturbing that we are still battling to get the basics right in Nigeria even after over 60 years of independence. One wouldve wished that by now, we should be discussing sophisticated issues of 21st century development, but we cant erect the building without a foundation. This is why we still have to emphasize on solving our foundational problems. Hopefully, we will get things right in a few years time.

Today, I want us to discuss agriculture which for now is the bedrock of the Jigawa State micro-economy. Over 75% of our people are farmers though at subsistence level. Agriculture is so broad that you cannot discuss its development in summary. Therefore, our vision for the sector is so wide and comprehensive that we have decided to discuss it in two series. Our major long-term plan is to make agriculture a macro-economic commercial venture that can be independent of government funding. We want to create an enabling environment which farmers will become strong enough to run their ventures just like factories and companies. In the long run, government will be the one benefitting from agricultural revenues even without huge budgetary allocations for the sector.

First and foremost, we are lucky that all the natural and artificial factors favourable to agricultural development are already available in Jigawa State. Our State has a total landmass of 24,742 square kilometres, a large proportion of which is certified to be arable. Ground survey data from the Jigawa State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA) indicates that our State has a total fadama (wetlands) size of 3,433.79 km (14% of its total landmass). In addition, we have a population of over 3 million able-bodied youths.

In addition to our new plans for agriculture, we intend to build on the achievements of the previous PDP administration. Our major deliverables are, establishment of a conducive environment through solving the farmers-herders conflict, revolutionary upgrade from subsistence to commercial farming through agricultural mechanization, sustainable agricultural funding, modernized and scientific agriculture through research and revival of agricultural extension, developing an irrigation masterplan for all-year round farming, modernized animal production and upgrade of veterinary clinics, effective storage and increased agro-processing, increased access to subsidized farm inputs and establishment of a strong linkage between agriculture and industrialization.

We will start by establishing a synergy with relevant national and international organizations in order to achieve the complete formalization of the agricultural sector. We shall deploy experts to conduct a comprehensive soil classification across the state and document the environmental requirements of all crops so that farmers can be guided on what to produce, how to produce them and where to do so. This will pave way for the gradual migration of Jigawa State into scientific agriculture. We shall work to evaluate the periodic contributions of agriculture and its components to our GDP.

As a matter of policy, we shall encourage all civil servants and other corporate entities to take up agriculture as a second venture. Our government will consider granting significant funds as agricultural loans to civil servants at zero interest rates to be deducted from their salaries over time. Only those who show convincing evidence of existing investment in agri-business will benefit.

We shall deploy a viable and sustainable means of supporting serious farmers with the right capital. Under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of the Federal Government, the CBN is reported to have disbursed over 5 billion Naira as loan between 2016-2021 to Jigawa State farmers. However, it is difficult to objectively assess the sustainable impacts of these loans on the sector in the state. In partnership with the same Federal Government, we will start from the depoliticization of these loans so that only real farmers will have access irrespective of political affiliation. We will then expand the scheme at local level and improve it through monitoring and evaluation Insha Allah.

We will revive agricultural extension by extensively and intensively using the services of relevant graduates of the agricultural discipline. They will be given exclusive consultancy and extension service training and development exposure on new and better ways of mechanised agriculture and utilisation of better yielding seeds and varieties of animal/fishery breeding methods, etc.

We will conduct a comprehensive review of the policies and implementation mechanisms of agricultural inputs to farmers and cooperatives. To ensure the sustainability of fertilizer supply at affordable prices, we will work with private investors for the establishment and strengthening of factories with the capacity to produce the right quality and quantity throughout the year. We shall also work to attract further investors that specialize in other farm consumables like pesticides and animal supplements to see the possibility of producing them in Jigawa.

We cannot move beyond our current status if we dont substitute crude implements with modern ones; but we are aware that achieving agricultural mechanization will require time and huge resources. Since it will be nearly impossible to provide farm machineries to all categories of farmers at once, we will emphasize on agricultural equipment hiring and maintenance arrangement. Under this, there will be a community-based arrangement to deploy these equipment and tools to farmer groups to expose them to their uses and elementary maintenance. The services of the newly trained extension workers and practitioners will be utilised here.

We shall give priority to irrigation agriculture. Jigawa has 8 Dams, Dambo, Kazaure and Wawanrafi Dams in Kazaure LGA, Warwade Dam in Dutse LGA, Galambi and Hayin Walde Dams in Gwaram LGA, Kafin Gana Dam in Birnin Kudu LGA and Kalwai Dam in Kaugama LGA. Insha Allah, we shall develop a new irrigation masterplan to make the best use of our existing water resources. In my next focus, I will continue with our agricultural policies and programmes for Fulani nomads, animal production, agro-processing, storage and marketing as well as the complete agricultural value chain.

Gobe ta Allah ce
©Santurakin Dutse

Opinion

Letter To The President On The Re-Introduction Of Subsidy

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Dear President Tinubu

Sir,every Nigerian with rudimentary knowledge of economics will agree with you that fuel subsidy has to go, it has stagnate the growth of our economy over the years,benefitting only selected few.
Most Nigerians have no qualms with subsidy removal,its the approach that was used that we have reservation for. There is no doubt that the removal of fuel subsidy had ripple effect on the woof and warp of Nigeria’s economic fabric. The private sector is struggling to keep up with the reality of the moment and civil servants in public sector are financially incapacitated.
Nigeria’s present consumer price index (CPI), stood at almost 30%, this clearly shows a reduction in the citizens purcasing power. Families are finding it difficult to have 2 meals a day; this will have resultant negative effects on the health of the citizens and may reduce manpower ability to contribute to the Nations gross domestic product (GDP).
Nigeria at this point needs to invest massively in agriculture, to make surplus food available to the citizens at an affordable rate. Agriculture is one of the most subsidized sector of most world power’s economy. United States,Russia and China controls the world grains reserve because of the subsidies available for agriculture and other working policies. NIRSAL is a case study of working policy in Nigeria, its a fantastic government programme that was supposed to transform Nigeria’s agriculture by making funds available to real farmers who produce what Nigerians consume daily,but it could not achieve its objective due to the Nigerian factor.

Yes, subsidy is gone in the petroleum industry, but it needs to be re-introduced into agriculture to make funds available for small scale farmers who produce 70% of the food items consumed in Nigeria. Also, there is the need for more regulatory policies in the agrochemical industry to control sub-standard products in the market and possibly provide tax waivers to reduce the market price of these agrochemicals.

Fertilizer is a key component of agricultural production which must be made available to farmers at subsidized rate. The e-wallet template used by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of African development bank when he was Nigeria’s minister of agriculture is a tested and verified framework for reaching out to small scale farmers.

Insecurity is an integral index in Nigeria’s agricultural sector today, there is the need to improve on the country’s security architecture and a synergy should be put in place betwern the proposed agro-rangers and the various security apparatus ( army,airfoce, police etc). Farmers should be able to go about their business with maximum safety and also a viable solution must be worked out to put a stop to farmers/cattle rearers conflict by establishing a symbiotic relationship between both party.

The twelve River Basin Development Authorities can provide the fulcrum for achieving food security, with thousands of hectares of lands,Dams,Canals and other Irrigation structures in their control for achieving an all year round farming. More funds needs to be funneled into these agencies for revitalization and expansion of existing infrastructures.
Nigeria is presently at a turbulent time in its economic history; making food available to the masses at an affordable rate through subsidized agriculture is necessary to extinguish the embers of looming disquiet in Nigeria.
Ibrahim Baba-Ibrahim writes from Ilorin. ibrahimbabaibrahim@gmail.com

08031163326.

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Opinion

Government Panics as Cost of Living Crisis Deepens

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Professor Jibril Ibrahim

 

Jibrin Ibrahim

The Tinubu Administration is a fanatic believer in economic liberalism and market forces. Based on its belief, it cancelled fuel subsidy and floated the naira so that it can find its true value. The naira played its part and has been rising steadily desperately searching for its true market value, which it turns out, is still very far away. The result is a “misery crisis” as food prices rise beyond the incomes of ordinary citizens whose naira is too small to enable them purchase food and hunger and anger spreads throughout the land. The President who always tells Nigerians that he understands their pains then offers a solution and orders distribution of free grains from the Strategic Food Reserves. It turned out the civil servants forgot to brief him that the reserves are empty.

Over the past few weeks, hunger and anger have led to street protests all over the country and strike threats. Our politically savvy President sensing the danger decides that since the stupid market forces are now threatening his turn to rule in peace, he must find a diversion. If you search, you will find. The Bureau de Change operators, the “Mallams”, are responsible for destroying the capacity of the “market forces” he unleashed to bring down the cost of living. He therefore got the EFCC to establish a Special Task Force across its commands, to clamp down on individuals “dollarizing” the Nigerian economy. The gun trotting operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have since Monday been raiding Bureau de Change operators and arresting them all over the country. The task force which was inaugurated by the Executive Chairman of the Commission, Ola Olukoyede, was raised: “to protect the economy from abuses, leakages, and distortions exposing it to instability and disruption”, we were told.

Those of us of a certain age were brought up in an era in which the dollar did not circulate as a means of exchange or store of value and we used our currency, the naira. Did our Afrobeat hero Fela Kuti not do to jail for having dollars cash that he wanted to travel out of the country with to perform in a concert? Then the neoliberals told us it was imperative to allow free purchase and sell of foreign currency. They even encouraged us to open domiciliary accounts in our banks to store foreign currency which government guaranteed will be safe as the ideology of free markets requires the assurance. The Central Bank of Nigeria licensed thousands of BDCs and asked them to trade in currencies. Why the hell are they being arrested today for doing what the law asked them to do? The other panic move is to place the blame on crypto-currency websites for stealing the value of the naira. The issue is that the few people with naira, conscious of its steady and daily loss of value, would seek to protect their asset anyway they can, won’t they?

The fact of the matter is that we are simply not earning enough foreign currency to meet our high demands for imported goods. In so doing, for decades, we have relied on petroleum rent as our major source of foreign currency. Then to our shock, in 2022, the Group Managing Director of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, explained to us in a State House media briefing that most of our petroleum was being stolen so the dollars are no longer coming in. Mr. Kyari blamed various sections of the Nigerian society for being complicit in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil, mentioning even that make-shift pipelines and stolen fuel have been found in churches and mosques.

We were told that between January and July 2022, Africa’s biggest oil producer lost an average of 437,000 barrels of oil a day to criminal entities and individuals who illicitly tap pipelines onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region. The solution to the problem is therefore clear – stop the oil theft and more dollars will come in. The bigger issue is that for a rentier State, safeguarding the source of rent is an existential problem and simple logic should have prevailed and made the state stop the theft. The underlying reality, as we all know however, is that our political leaders and upper echelons of our security forces are beneficiaries of the oil theft. They have taken the decision to eat the goose that lays the golden egg and move to Dubai thereafter as rich refugees.

There is still an explanation needed for the astronomic collapse of the Naira over the past few weeks. What the hell is going on? The answer, says the research done by Business Day is that we should look at those with a lot of naira – government. Since the removal of fuel subsidy, the Federal and State governments have been receiving massive amounts of naira through the disbursement of money by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). BusinessDay learnt that portions of the funds from FAAC were often changed to dollars by some governments at the parallel market, putting more pressure on the naira. Their analysis shows that from July 2023 to January 2024, the naira depreciated in the black market for the six months immediately after the FAAC shared money to the federal, state and local governments:

“With the removal of fuel subsidy, more volumes of naira are being shared by the federal, state and local governments and some of these monies are changed to dollars at the parallel market.” BusinessDay has asked us to open our eyes from now on. We should note the price of dollars one week before FAAC allocation, check back the price after the allocation and you will see clearly the difference. Let’s all do that and know that those who should go to jail are some of our governors and ministers. President Tinubu, please stop panicking, just look around you and you shall see.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

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Opinion

How Senator Saliu Mustapha is ameliorating the hardships in Kwara Central

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By AbdurRaheem Sa’ad Dembo

It is no longer news that inflation is ravaging the country and it has adversely affected the economic power of the citizens. The surge in the prices of grains and other commodities in the market is alarming and heart-wrenching.

Senator Saliu Mustapha, having been a philantropist and a figure with a good heart prior his ascension to the Senate, understood the implications and consequences of such situations and had, as a matter of urgency, reached out to some indigent households in Kwara Central Senatorial District through distribution of rice and other items in late December, 2023.

Similarly, in mid January,2024 he rolled out NECO, WAEC and UTME scholarships for considerable number of indigent students across some selected schools in Kwara Central. The Chairman, Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Prof. Binta Suleiman, who represented Turaki of Ilorin during the flag-off ceremony held at Socrates College, Ilorin admonished the beneficiaries to be focused, dedicated, disciplined and committed to their educational pursuits. She reiterated the commitment of Senator Mustapha to the educational development of his Senatorial district with further award of full scholarship to deserving students among the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Yakub Ishowo, explained that the committee initially planned the registration and capturing of the beneficiaries for one week, but was extended to capture over 2000 beneficiaries. Being a member of the committee I can attest to the assertion of the secretary.

Most of the parents of the beneficiaries appreciated the Senator and prayed to Allah to grant him long life and good health. In one of the videos shared by Alhaji Jagunma, one of the parents said they never expected it and that it was enough an evidence that the selection process was devoid of political affiliations and biases. Rather, the emphasis was on those who actually needed it, which were indigent students.

Essentially, the Turaki of Ilorin is much aware of the fact that sharing of food items is a temporary measure to cushion the effects of the inflation at all levels of the society and that the Federal and State governments are working together to ensure a permanent solution that would bring succour to the entire country.

In Mustapha’s philosophy, one should reach out to people in one’s neighbourhood no matter how little, because it would help in alleviating their conditions. One does not have to wait to become a rich person before extending the hand of fellowship to the less privileged in his or her community.

Most importantly,I can confirm recently that Saliu Mustapha has started giving out appointment letters to some individuals in Kwara Central. This will be a continuous thing so that an appreciably large coverage is attained ultimately.

I have always said it that when one’s is fixing other people’s lives, he or she is invariably fixing his or her own life too. According to a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, “we cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs”. This is in tandem with the philosophy of Senator Mustapha, hence he is working tirelessly to build others.

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