The entrance of ‘big boy’ farmers has redefined the farming business, CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
Not until recently when young and dynamic Nigerians delved massively into farming – pastoral and arable farmers were regarded as poor people who till the ground with cutlasses and hoes, and are only good for subsistence and medium scale farming.
The renewed interests of the educated class and vibrant young men in farms against the crazy clamour for white collar jobs came about with the government’s resolve to diversify its economic base. The recession in Nigeria which propped up the government interest to invest in the agricultural sector, gave rise to the development in the sector. This has seen a great number of Nigerians approaching banks to obtain loan running into millions of naira for farming venture which profit is long term.
This shift in paradigm, where young Nigerian male and female farmers come together in a conglomerate to establish solid agricultural business empires was prompted by the economic gains that farming practices present in the country today. The young now see farming as a goldmine, following booming farming practices in the country. While some younger farmers are into food crop production, others are into pastoral farming, which appears more rewarding because it yields profits quicker.
When this is compared to the former situation where Nigerian farmers merely engaged in subsistence farming to provide food for family, with very little made available for commercial activities, it tells a big story of the sudden turn around. These ‘big boy’ farmers, who are welldressed and are today well to do, have been able to debunk the traditional view that farmers are a bunch of worthless subsidy- junkies, hosing the land with herbicides and milking the system.
These modern day farmers, who boldly introduce themselves as farmers in high society events, are into meat production and rear poultry, diary and animals like cow, goat, sheep, cattle, pigs, horse and several others. For 34-year-old John Nebolisa, who owns a big farm at Iba Estate, Ojo, Lagos, farming is a big business that many Nigerians look down on due to the crude implements used by the subsistence farmers.
“Livestock farming is an important aspect of agriculture in Nigeria. The Nigerian community depends mostly on meat from cows and chicken. Meat is an important protein eaten in Nigeria. You will agree with me that Nigerians don’t cook food without meat or fish, especially the Yorubas,” he said. According to him, he has been into catfish and poultry farming in the past seven years.
This has fetched him more money, than the conventional business he engaged in before embracing farming. He disclosed that he sells fully matured catfish of various sizes to hotels and other hospitality homes. “I have my customers in Festac, Old Ojo Road and other parts of Lagos. I supply catfish to some open bars at Iba Housing Estate, likewise eggs from my poultry farm. I train my children with it and this is the only business I do.
I eat eggs and meat when I want and it does not affect my profit. That is one of the advantages of farming. It is almost the same with that of our forefathers but this time with a difference.” He added: “The major challenges we have now are the prices of poultry feeds and other components which boost business. The prices of feeds are going up astronomically, starting from grower to finisher. The cost of the feed we used to buy at N1, 800 has gone up.
This is the only problem we have now, as dealers in poultry feeds claim that the high rate of foreign exchange is adversely affecting our business. It’s weighs down our pockets as good products can only be achieved if well fed. “In Lagos today, everybody looks for where to eat cat fish pepper soup. The daily consumption is increasing. Our daily sales of cat fish have increased.
The number of fish farmers in Nigeria is fast growing, but the advantage we have is our network of customers who we supply. I have been doing this since I graduated some years ago. My father used to have a very big fish pound, so I inherited it from him and started my business at a larger scale.” A former minister, based Festac Town, but who does not want his name in print, told our reporter that he grew up farming in the village and this extended to his boarding school, but he initially snubbed farming when he gained admission into the university.
“But when I traveled abroad, I realised that the rich people in Europe and America are the mechanised farmers. “This changed my mentality and that was why when I returned to Nigeria, I bought a farm on acres of land and went into full-time farming. I have rest of mind when I plant crops and see them growing. I make money from the produce. I have a farm where I cultivate local (Ofada) rice in Ogun State.
“The advantage is that the Ofada rice because of its large composition of nutrients, sells higher than the American rice. I must confess; it’s almost twice the price of each measurements. At a time the small measurement of American long grain rice went for N300 per ‘Derica cup’, the same measurement of Ofada goes for N650.
The consumption of Ofada rice and sales are impressive. Everything is money in a modern farm. This is no longer farming with crude implements. You have to hire machines when you need to.” Another rice farmer in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, Mr. Joseph Mbamalu, 41, said he went into local rice farming when he relocated to Abakiliki and got uncultivated land which he exploited by cultivating rice on it.
He started by paying people to cultivate for him on subsistence note, but with the increasing demand for local rice, he went into full scale commercial rice farming. “Initially, I was a partial rice cultivator when I used to pay people to do the job for me, while I supervised them. I still paid a Farm manager. Currently, I have a minirice mill that bags my rice.
A bag of one bushel sells for N7, 000 while a bag of two bushel, sells for N14, 000. And two bushel is slightly bigger than normal 50kg bag of foreign rice. “I cultivate the rice, bag it and move it to Onitsha market for sale. I have customers who book for rice in large quantity during festive periods especially elderly people who do not want polished foreign rice which had been bagged for years.”
A graduate of Ebonyi State University, Ishieke, who studied Business Administration, told our reporter that, he is concentrating on rice production with the possibility of diversifying in the nearest future.
“Business has been good and I give thanks to God for giving me the wisdom to take to farming. I will advise other young Nigerian men to go into farming.” A 36-year old Nkpor-based Vincent Ezeme, in Anambra State said: “I started raising layers in my poultry farm because I like eggs and from there, I discovered I could make money from it.” Ezeme, a graduate of Accountancy noted that: “When I sold some crates of eggs to a friend, a baker, more people started patronising my farm.
I saw it as a venture I could make money from and I increased my stock. So, I had to increase my stock and by the time I knew what was happening, I had gone into serious poultry farming. “Today, I smile to the bank on a regular basis. For me, there is nothing like stress, though there was initially, but I have people who work for me full time. I now work as a procurement manager for workers in my poultry farm.
This is very lucrative. We sell chickens, eggs and even the droppings as manures for the farmers in crop production. “I have added snail farming to my poultry farm. Snails are generally expensive in the Nigerian market and it’s not a common choice in the Nigerian cuisine. We sell about four pieces of big snails for N3, 000, depending on the size. I tell you, there is no job better than farming. The method is simple, a snail naturally lay over a hundred eggs and when these are hatched, it means a great deal in terms of marketing.”
A Chartered Accountant, Mike Adetifa, 52, who grooms young people on snail farming, said there is money in snail farming yet the method is simple and easy. He advocates snail and grass cutter farming as a good alternative to job creation in order to alleviate poverty in Nigeria.
According to him, the procedure is simple and does not take extra income from interested people as one makes use of one’s waste as input to generate money. “What you need is the waste you throw away. The mango, paw-paw, and orange peels as well as other leaves or vegetative cover are the things you need to raise snails. That’s making money from waste unlike poultry farm where you have to pay for feeds and drugs,” said.
The Managing Director, Agrofood Enterprises, Yusuf Muhammad Isah, said lack of job pushed him into farming. I embraced farming since I graduated from the university when I realised that it wasn’t easy securing a government paid job and my uncle introduced me to farming. “I saw that he had food in his storeroom all through the year, while his friends who are richer than him complain bitterly of the cost of feeding their families. Farming is the best alternative to poverty. It is a solid back-up to better living.
Though I am currently farming on a small scale, I hope to expand when I have enough start-up capital. There is no job that can pay me what I make from farming today.”
A farmer, Hafuatu Abdullahi, said he went back to farming due to the high cost of living in the country. As the bread winner of the family with responsibilities, he sought for ways to provide for his family and remain self-reliant. He has a vegetable farm along LASU Road, which turns out vegetables round the year. “I do my farming both for subsistence and commercial purposes. I want to expand because farmers make plenty money farming in the dry season,” he said.
Mohammed Abubarka, who deals in poultry and fish feeds and drugs said: “To make a lot of profit in poultry farm business, you need to cut the cost of feeding the birds. Also, birds grown at high density requires nutritionally complete feed for growth and to maintain health.”
He added: “I’m also a local manufacturer and distributor of high quality poultry/catfish feed in Nigeria. I sell at an affordable rate of N2, 000 per 25kg bag, I have the various range of feeds: starters, growers, finishers and layer mash are available in large quantity. I distribute to all parts of the country to sub-distributors, wholesalers, retailers and end-users.” Prince Arinze Onebunne is the successful Managing Consultant and CEO of Jovana Farms, located in Mushin, Lagos. Onebunne specialises in grass cutters (greater cane rats), rabbits, quail, antelopes, guinea pigs and fish farming.
According to him, his high profile level of animal farming has taken him to over 30 states in Nigeria and other countries as a seminar facilitator, advocate, training personnel and empowerment speaker. He went into farming to provide services and make money. The founder of Jovana Farms is also at the vanguard of modern fish and livestock farming in Nigeria, which is considered a fast growing and lucrative subsector of the nation’s economy today.
“With my vast experience and engagement in training and mentoring prospective animal farmers, I earn millions of naira not only from sales of animal products, but from consultancy charges and feasibility researches I carry out. Site survey and farm construction projects, are also part of his professional services,” Onebunne said. Dr. Olatunde Agbato, a Veterinary Doctor, is the founder, president/CEO of Animal Care Services Konsult.
Agbato, a graduate of the University of Ibadan (UI), became a viable player in the agricultural sector with the establishment of the company known as Animal Care. The company has interests in commercial poultry production; commercial livestock feed milling, aquaculture, manufacturing, and procurement and distribution of animal health products. The company also undertakes provision of expert services for people with interest in animal farming, but who lack the know-how.
The company located in Sagamu and Ogere Remo, Ogun State concentrates majorly on poultry and veterinary services. It has a subsidiary called Funtuna Farms, which is a poultry farming operation unit which engage in mass production, distribution and sales of eggs.
Furthermore, it has a fish farm operation unit. Agbato has over the years distinguished himself as a veterinary doctor cum farmer. He is a fellow of the College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria; fellow, Farm Management Association of Nigeria; member, International Egg Commission, and has received many awards of recognition. Agbato is, indeed, one of the farmers who have sown under the sun and can now reap their harvests.
Forbidden passion: When fathers impregnate daughters
It’s insane, says psychologist
Incest is an abomination —Traditionalist
Such girls are groomed into it —Sociologist
Although it sounds stranger than fiction, cases of fathers, supposed protectors of their daughters from sexual molesters,actually becoming the paedoplites have sadly become frequent news headline. These fathers not only snatch their daughters’ innocence but also often impregnates them, leaving them with children from incestuous intercourse for life. BIYI ADEGOROYE writes on the rising cases of incest
Stories of fathers sleeping with their daughters, biological or adopted, always leave people gaping in wonder. But from sleeping with the girls, many fathers have taken their abominable act to impregnating their own children. These easily make headlines because of its absurdity.
In a world that is fast going digital, these types of stories now appear on the internet from different parts of the world and not just in Africa or Nigeria alone. These horrific tales of impressionable little girls being molested by their fathers are enough to give any sane human being sleepless nights; unfortunately this has become a common incident in our society for ages.
For instance, earlier this month, a 43-year-old man, Mr. Olusegun Adefemi, was allegedly caught violating his three daughters aged three, five and seven years at the Ijede area of Ikorodu in the Lagos suburb. While the three-year-old girl said her father hurt her private part, others alleged that they were sodomised as their biological father used their anuses.
In another case, a 44-year-old man, Viashima Titus Ukegi, an indigene of Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, recently impregnated his teenage daughter.
Ukegi’s wife, Cecilia Torkwase, died soon after giving birth to their daughter, Mary Doosur Ukegi in 2001, resulting from complications that arose from a prolonged labour that lasted one week.
Ukegi, a farmer and petty trader had left the responsibility of nursing the girl to his mother in-law who later also passed on. Ukegi relocated his daughter to his own part of the family house and the two shared a room until she attained puberty and moved out to another room. Today, she is pregnant for him, but he claimed that though he regretted the action, the girl is not his biological daughter because his late wife brought the pregnancy into their marriage.
In August 2017 in Unguwa Uku, Kano, a father slept with his 14-year-old daughter leaving her pregnant on three different occasions. The girl in question had carried out three abortions after being impregnated by her father.
And in July 2016, a 34-year-old man, Kennedy Michael, was arrested by police in Lagos for allegedly impregnating his 13-year-old daughter who he had consistently defiled since she was in Primary 5. He was also accused of sleeping with his neighbours’ children and sexually abused an 18-month old baby by inserting his fingers into the tot’s vaginal.
The frequency of this shocking practice, which incidentally violates legal, cultural and religious principles, has become a source of grave concern. Has our society degenerated so much to the extent that some fathers, who ordinarily are symbols of strength and protection to the little girls, have astonishingly become their sexual molesters?
Head, Psychology Department at the University of Lagos, Dr. Esther Akinsola, said its smacks of insanity for any father to sexually molest his daughter. According to her, various studies have shown that such fathers may have developed sadistic personality.
“It is a very tricky situation. If we want to analyse it from a psychological perspective, one might want to say is that such parent may have developed sadistic personality while they were growing up, or are. When they have such personality, what gives pleasure is to inflict pain on others. And it is very possible that a psychopath may not be able to differentiate between members of his family or others when he wants to inflict pain.
“It smacks of a kind of insanity for a father to sexually exploit his daughter, because you can’t be in your right frame of mind to sexually molest or have intercourse with your own daughter. Such action is unthinkable and absurd,” she said.
Dr. Akinsola said the effects on the abused daughters are often in two ways. “Some of them, because of bottled anger and frustration, they develop negative attitudes towards the opposite sex.
“On the other hand they may become promiscuous in life and throw caution to the wind by saying ‘I have been violated, so what is there to be preserved?’ Such girls just go haywire and become prostitutes. They don’t have to be in hotels to be prostitutes.”
Alhaji Olayinka Balogun, a lawyer who retired in 2012 in Benin City, Edo State as Commissioner of Police, said there are two basic dimensions to the issue.
“The natural fact is that a male sheep will be attracted to a female one, and vice versa. It is a natural attraction, but because we are civilized as human beings, we say in the society ‘no, male ‘A’ cannot have anything to do with female ‘B.’’ Like in Sociology, we have role conflict – that you cannot be father to somebody and also be her husband, or be her brother and lover at the same time. A man should be a father to a child and remain so. Those are the role conflict the society wants to avoid.
“But if some factors are not taken care of, role conflict will come in. The point is that there should not be any closeness between male and female that cannot marry themselves. A father is a father and he cannot take the role of being her husband. For instance, a lady cannot travel alone with somebody who is forbidden from marrying her. That is why in most homes you separate the room of the girls from the boys; otherwise you will have problems in your hands.
“Imagine the case of a single father who lives with two grown daughters, who one day comes home, perhaps while a little tipsy, sees his daughters naked in their room and the animal in him takes over and in the process he sleeps with them. As time goes on it becomes a practice, until the matter gets to the knowledge of outsiders,” he said.
Still on how closeness leads to incest, Balogun, who also is a graduate of Sociology, said it does not start suddenly. Though a Muslim, he referred to the incident in the Bible, where after the death of Lot’s wife, the patriarch was seduced by his daughters.
“You remember, at first, the eldest daughter gave her father an alcoholic drink, which made the inebriated father to sleep with his daughter. The following day, she told her younger sister who took her turn after repeating the process.”
A sociologist, who works as a social worker for children with special needs at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, (LUTH), Mrs. Titilayo Tade, gives additional reasons behind the scourge.
“A number of men do it to their daughters because it is easier for them. The children are assessable and easy to control unlike some other person’s children because anytime such parents want it, the child is available,” she said.
Other reason is the fact that sex is pleasurable even for the child. “Initially, it will be painful to them, but by the time the child is groomed, she begins to enjoy it. That’s something that is called ‘grooming’ in sociology. They don’t immediately start with penetrative sex. Culprits groom the girl child first!
“They start with touching and romancing them in pleasurable places and buy them gifts like any other human being. By the time someone is caressing, touching and buying gifts, you will start enjoying being with that person. It’s the same thing with children. So overtime, they groom them into liking it till it becomes normal to the child.”
She also mentioned the fear factor. “Sometimes, they threaten the child and children don’t think the way adults do. The child is to talk for fear of being blamed for what happened. So when it’s even their father, it becomes normal.”
Reminiscing on some of the cases he handled while in service, Balogun said, of great importance, is the poverty factor and loss of sense of values by some parents. “When a father lives in the same single room where the little girls have no privacy or are aware of their sexual interactions at night, they gradually develop interest in such.”
Rev. James Akinadewo of Motailatu Church Worldwide does not have pleasant words for such parents, stating that, only demented fathers who have sold their soles to the devil can sleep with their own daughters.
“It is insanity for a father to sleep with his own daughter; it is the highest order of dementia. Their minds have been corrupted just like the book of Roman 1:28, says “because they refuse to imbibe the will of God they are given to reprobate minds to do what is evil.”
He said that incest is condemned in the Scriptures and Leviticus Chapter 18: 6-7, says: “No man among you should approach any of his close relatives to have sexual relations. You must not have sexual relations with your mother, and you must not have sexual relations with your father, and you must not have sexual relations with your mother.”
He said many people look for money from so many evil ways. “They sow to the Devil and Devil will becloud their minds and ask them for something in return. For instance, the Devil will require them to go and sleep with their own daughters.
“So they sleep with their own daughters to renew some evil covenants for money; some use it to renew power; some use it for political post because they want to enjoy the world. But they are children of perdition. A lot of evil is going on,” Akinadewo said.
He explained that these evil practices have serious implication on family members.
“It will become a generational curse on those families; and it will also affect the environment and affect the nation. The curse will not stop coming upon the children because of what their father had done, because the Devil will not give something and not take something bigger in return. So it will now become a generational curse. Once the father has done it once, it will now happen again and again because of the evil tree planted in the family. Such families need to be delivered so that incest will not become a recurring decimal,” he said.
For a traditionalist dealing with natural medicine, incest is an abomination because our culture frowns at such despicable act. And contrary to claims it could be part of some fetish practice required by some herbalists; Dr. Samuel Banjo, a specialist in Naturopathy who doubles as South-West Vice President of the Fellows of Physicians of Natural Medicine, explained that traditional medicine does not accept the practice of a man sleeping with his daughter.
“As far as I know, it is not part of our custom for a man to sleep with his daughter. We don’t allow such things to happen even if it does happen, the leaders in that village or community will traditionally determine the appropriate punishment on the man because it is an abomination.
“The traditional punishment will be determined by the Oba of that community or kingdom. Such a matter will be summoned to the Oba’s palace, and investigated to get real evidence that the man actually did such a thing.”
He said those practising natural medicine will not ask a man to sleep with his daughter for ritual purposes because a traditionalist will rather tell you to bring objects of sacrifice to do medicine rather than give the option of committing incest.
“It is not common in Yoruba land as far as I’m concerned.”
Balogun said preventive measures, including paying greater need to moral re-armament and self-control on the part of fathers should be taken. He also insists on reduction of the circumstances, economic and social, which predispose fathers to commit such heinous acts.
“In some cases, and these are some of the ones we investigated while in service, some fathers have mental or psychological problems. They should be admitted in the hospital for psychological treatment beyond the arrest,” he said.
Dr. Tade insists that such a man should be dealt with accordingly.
“When such happens, the child should be taken away from the house. The man will be lying if he says he won’t do it again because he has lost control. Also, this is a crime and should be reported. I know a lot of families will not want to report it because they want to protect the family’s image and name especially in this part of the world and that is why they do it again,” she said.
Also, Dr. Akinsola, quoted earlier, said families should allow the law to take its course instead of shielding randy fathers from justice.
“Many families often say the family should always stay together. ‘We don’t want to wash our dirty linen in the public.’ And that is what is actually making many mothers to say ‘we don’t want the law to take its course.’ I think we need to have a change of attitude.
“We condone a lot of criminality in this part of the world, without considering the psychological damage of such molestation on the child. Because for example, I have had course to interact with those who were sexually molested when they were young and the effects last a lifetime,” she said.
Dr. Akinsola blamed this on the paternal nature of the Nigerian society.
“We are very traditional to the core, because this is a very paternal society, women have no say. The few who have a say are those who are married to ‘liberated’ men. The typical Nigerian man is traditional to the core, even when he behaves abnormally or wrongly, the woman has no say. She has to keep her mouth shut – take it or leave it. And that is why the crime continues. Except when we have some women who will say ‘I want to save my daughter rather than my home!’”
From all indications, besides the issue of law enforcement, prosecution and conviction, which must be religiously followed, the fact remains that incest as perpetrated by fathers must be addressed from psychological, sociological and economic perspectives if the pandemic must be checked.
•With additional report from VANESSA OKWARA
Under-age voting: Party wants Kano LG elections canceled
The National Rescue Movement (NRM) has called on the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KNSIEC) to cancel result of penultimate Saturday’s local government elections in the state.
Deputy National Chairman of the party, Mr. Niyi Dada, who made the call in a statement in Abuja, said that the exercise was fraught with irregularities, including under-age voting.
He also said that threats to perceived opponents, which forced them to stay away from participating in the elections constituted a major irregularity during the exercise.
Dada described the polls as “setback and a disgrace to democracy in Nigeria’’ and advised that the Nigerian electoral process should not be allowed to derail its democracy.
“NRM believes that a faction of the All Progressives Congress-led government that participated in the election could not have garnered over 2.6 million votes to clinch all the election positions in the 44 local councils. It was obvious that the election was not free and fair.
“NRM hereby calls on the President to as a matter of urgency, direct security agencies to investigate the circumstances that led to under-age voting in the election as well as prosecute whoever is culpable.
“Notice is hereby given to Kano State Independent Electoral Commission and security agencies to investigate the under-age voting and take necessary action or NRM will be compelled to take appropriate action within the law,’’ he said.
According to Dada, if this is not done, Nigerians might see a repeat of the 2019 elections. He called on Nigerians to guard the sanctity of the electoral process.
He also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to crosscheck the voter register it gave KNSIEC to ascertain whether it was doctored to accommodate under-age voters or if it was used at all.
Dada said that NRM also wanted the electoral commission to cancel the council polls and conduct a fresh one that would have semblance of fairness.
He said that the NRM stood for fairness, justice and equal opportunities for all Nigerians “who seek elective positions within the ambit of the law and the Constitution.
Politicians in power for 12 straight years are social parasites, says Prof. Utomi
Pat Utomi, one time Nigerian presidential candidate, is a professor of Political Economy and a Director at the Lagos Business School. In this interview with CHIJIOKE IREMEKA, he X-rays some issues bordering on the Nigerian economy, politics and herdsmen’s killings among others
Months from now, Nigerians will be going to the polls to choose their leaders at various levels. What do you consider the most dangerous element in the forth coming 2019 general elections?
One thing I will say is that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be unnecessarily burdened in our ambitions in political life. I know one of the challenges we have is grooming people for positions to having succession and all of those. Political parties in Nigerian have obviously not discharged themselves well in terms of an active engagement coming forward later. So, that is one of the biggest issues we have to deal with.
There are many people who call themselves all kinds of names, professional politicians and so on. I think our country needs a convention, if not a law, which states that if you are in public office, there has to be a certain number of years maximum to stay after which you have to go away. And if you have to come back later, you will come back two years after or so. We should have a specific policy that will ensure and encourage people, who are in specific sectors to give way in order to bring about fresh blood into the system. Looking at the people that have started as local government chairmen, then to commissioners, deputy governors, senators, those people in my view, should be encouraged to go away from some time. I believe this will affect a whole lot of things.
Anybody, who is in politics, elected or appointed for more than 12 straight years is a social parasite. I know they are making case of being professional politicians, but if you ask me, these people have been around, and have been everything in the system for the last 10 years. They have owned factories with the masses money and are increasing the rate of unemployment for some people in the country. You will find a big failure in the system if they are allowed to continue this way. People who are pursuing power desperately, many at times, forget the purpose of power. We need to come with a system that says if you have been straight in governance for 12 years you must leave for, at least, two years and come back for appointed positions if you wish. That way, we will create a new circulation of the lead that can help us identify more powerful and competent people who we can work with to change the system. That is one of the dangerous things I see in 2019 general election that there will be too many dead woods, basically speaking, seeking public office when they can justify the lead when they have the chance. So, that is very crucial factor in how we go from here.
Is this position derived from any precedent by notable democracies of the world or it came straight from your heart?
Yes, straight from my heart. These are things that made US constitutionalists to peg, for example, one seven-year-term for president in power for these and that because people who are ready to give up themselves for service are not allowed doing so.
Now, what is your impression about the Nigerian economy, increasing job loss and Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) monthly intervention of $300 million?
First of all, it’s a mixed range of activities and while some are the outcome of policies that are very obvious and others are not, the one you will say let’s watch and see how it goes. I believe the economy is in repositioning mood and it cannot, in fairness, ascribe any concrete values, negative or positive. It will take being watchful for a little while. The key factor in most places is being consistent, ensuring that things are done consistently.
We obviously came into these current challenges principally because the base of our economy is not diversified in such a way that when the commodity prices went down around 2014 the economy was unable to sustain many things. One of the places was in the area of the foreign exchange market. Again because our economy is not diversified even manufacturing sector tends to be typically more dependent on foreign exchange earned through crude oil. So, the impact was very evident across the board. Now, that on its own may create panic and anxiety amongst those managing the economy but for people like me, who have a longer term view, I thought it was a good thing for our economy. It was a good thing that the prices will still be down in few more years so that we will learn our lesson and begin to plan properly. Unfortunately, oil prices have rebounded and the big danger when such things happen is that people can quickly return to their old arrays. This is the only one of the problems I fear for Nigeria.
Apart from that, the economy is a kind of a mixed bag. There is the diversification that is happening in the agricultural sector and there is a different report on the output in the sector. Regrettably, the effect is not as broadly felt as possible because agriculture is still not a business in Nigeria. It’s still a combination of peasant and subsistent farming with little surplus which is veneered at by the middlemen. So, middlemen are still very critical in the agricultural sector for now and yet middlemen are the people, who don’t take a lot of risks but seek to maximise returns.
There are a lot of things on Nigeria’s economy. One in one hand can say and one in another hand, can celebrate the increased contribution of agriculture to the economy. If that is generally suggested, Nigeria has managed to free itself from importation of rice. That is a tremendous impact because if you think how much in our foreign exchange income that goes into importing wheat and rice, you will see that if the agricultural sector can move up, stabilize and if we put the right structure in place to supply into places like integration products cities so that we will find out the cost of access to market for both the farmers and those buying, is bridged dramatically and that will be able to stimulate economic performance in addition to other factors on ground.
Would you rather say that ruling the All Progressives Congress-led government policies are working or not working?
No, I think policy is a very broad statement. People have different policy integration; they are first seen in the past and they are still being seen today. So, I don’t think it’s appropriate to lump it around APC’s policymakers. That’s why the universal thing for them is to be active. It’s not really about a set of APC policymakers or not. If you implement policy and the policy is not getting to where you are going, your business is to adapt and adjust and give that momentum. I do not think that a lot of those, who are critical in the country, actually on top of that momentum and dynamics of getting to the realities of that concrete system to show the way.
Sorry sir, you seemed to have omitted comment on the CBN’s $300million monthly intervention?
Oh oh, yea. When you are in the kind of turf that Nigeria is into now, you need to be able to stimulate a lot of economic activities. One of the biggest challenges with Nigeria is the fact that banks are very reluctant to disburse loans in the country because of
uncertainty, the moral hazards that could be lurking somewhere around the corner and so on and so forth. So, if there is a major intervention by CBN that will surely be a boast to those that are interfacing. Such a fund can have significant impact to the economy.
Going by the way the 2017 national budget was implemented, how realistic will you say is the 2018 budget?
Yes, my experience about who and where the business of growth for the economy is concerned that we tend to forget, is the issues regarding the implementation, issues of getting more private sector activities rather than trying to create a public sector expansion because we all know the experience. It’s easier to have effective outcome and good budget performance when more private sector activities are stimulated.
What is your impression of Nigeria’s rail system which has engulfed over N2 trillion in the past seven years? Is the money spent commensurable to the extent of work done?
Rail is something we obviously needed if we are going to open up the country. One of the big issues I raised in 1998/99 during the transition is how to take the advantage of goodwill we have at time of international community’s presence in Nigeria to do a standard rail system in Nigeria. I raised the issues that we needed a railway line from Lagos to Calabar, and one from Lagos through Abuja to Kaduna and Kano. If we were able to get that, all countries that their eyes were on that system will be helpful only that people will go about their jobs, clearing the bush and all that. Then, it will be good to continue to engage on that to see if what happen 1999 will happen, just that it wasn’t implemented and it set us back a great deal.
So speaking, about N2 trillion has been sunk in the project, do you think the amount is comparable to the work done?
Oh N2 trillion already, wao, wao! Obviously, we all know that is the problem we have. We have not had a concrete government, philosophy-driven action. Obviously, we have had the leaders, we shouldn’t have. See the significant change along the Kaduna-Abuja corridor and we don’t have the policy to show people that those things are available for much conversion surrounding it.
What is your impression of herdsmen killings in Benue, Nassarawa, Taraba, Zamfara and other states?
I think part of the problem there is that we have not shown much rigour in studying the actions and reactions. A lot of dynamics are taking place there and one is social destruction that is leading nomads to fend for themselves. We don’t systematically study things and we rush to solve those problems. There are a series of crises going on, and one of them is in the structure of the herdsman’s employer-employee relationship because those cows are not owned by those herdsmen. In the past, the herdsmen were the real businessmen who were entrepreneurs, trying to adjust to their environment as soon as possible. Now, the current situation is such that many of those herdsmen of yesterday are shielded and have become nomadic herdsmen whereas the ownership of the cattle has moved to certain capital owning class. So, the herdsmen we are talking about today are very frustrated people, who look at what their parents used to do when their parents controlled things and resources, and they themselves are watching their own parents not owing the cows, they are just workers.
So, the dynamics, the tension being intra group problem is there already with a lot of young herdsmen very angry who feel the capital owning class have taken away what used to be their source of pride.
They are now workers instead of being the self-employed people and infuriate a bit, you see the kind of disaster we have been getting. What is required is strong leadership that will make everybody realize how they have been distracted and solve that problem without being confrontational or in a state of anarchy. Let’s make people believe in one another and convincing them there is no attempt to dominating them because whether you like it or not, some of their actions is caused by the fear that they are going to be dominated.
Ok. Would you rather say that the security agents and presidency have handled this matter well?
No, I wouldn’t say so. I would have loved to say they handled it well, but all the same, they have done their best; they have put in passion in it but I would have gone for something very radical and more different.
Are you for cattle colonies? Does it have any historical background in Nigeria?
I think in the case of colonies, is for them to have a connection of branches but we have to ensure that the people feel comfortable with who their neigbhours are. APC and PDP are said to have failed the country. What is your view on this? I don’t think there is something we will burst it at glittering in generalities. We have to look at specific issues and find specific champions for those issues to guide them forward.
What’s your impression on Chief Obasanjo and IBB’s letters to the president, pointing at nepotism and others?
Well, I think those issues are gamine and should be concerned with.
What is the philosophy behind your ‘Third Force’ and what is your level of involvement in it?
Yea, it’s very important question because in Nigeria we tend to confuse many things and then try to ascribe different things to different people. First and foremost, I was getting to a point of despair regarding the participation of Nigerians, especially the educated Nigerians in politics and public life. So, in conversations with Olisa Agbakoba, in conversations with Wale Okuniyi, we more or less agreed that it will be good thing to put together a movement that can bring competent and qualified Nigerians who may be hiding under the veil of certain things or whatever it is.
We held that if we get these people into a movement and get them to become involved in citizenship and politics; you will find out that things will better come alive. And so just like the way Adams Oshomole ran his one-man one-vote campaign, just the way we ran the old concerned professionals, we saw that we will be able to get this huge movement of Nigerians, who are concerned with the way things are and want to make a contribution to make difference in the country.
In many ways we have been vindicated for the facts that there are as many as two million people have registered on the website called National Intervention Movement (NIM) as we speak. Now, the tendency has been to confuse it with other movements active and some it are political parties. Our main concern is citizenship and participation in politics and public life. That is what the NIM is trying to do. So, like I said, many people have confused NIM both in terms of its roles and all of that with that of political champion and I think that such is not intended.
What is the feedback like?
Like I said it’s a vindication and many Nigerians who are anxious are almost desperate to belong to any serious movement that will help them put those in military and their kinds out.
How far can the merger of 30 parties go in Nigeria politics?
Well, any attempt toward together groupings is a welcome one.
Would you not be scared that such might turn Nigeria into a one-party country and its attendant consequences?
I doubt that. There are many things that need to work together and different diversity.
The North is said to have more PVCs than the South. How will this imbalance be corrected?
First of all, I think we need more voters’ education for our people to go for registration. Up there, they have been able to do that but we have not dealt with that issue towards our people. Down here, we need it so that we can have a common front.
Underage are said to be registering as well and having PVCs. What is your take on this?
Well, I saw a number of videos of that but we obviously need to call our people together. We need to get them to vote and educate them on the need to participate in political system. That’s what the north has done and same way, our people will go for registration too.
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