By Sodiq Lawal
Farmers have set agenda for the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, urging him to develop agriculture to revive the economy. The President, All Progressives Farmers Association (APFA), Chief Ogbo Douglas, who spoke in Abuja with newsmen noted that developing agriculture could create employment for over 60 per cent of the youth. According to him, the outgoing government of President Muhammadu Buhari allegedly had no proportional results to show for the money it released to the agriculture sector because the fund went into the wrong hands.
He described the beneficiaries of the agriculture loans as political farmers, insisting the next government should identify the genuine farmers that have the land and technical know-how. Douglas recalled that Nigeria became the giant of Africa through agriculture. He, however, regretted that with the advent of oil, the country abandoned its age-long economic mainstay. The APFA President said: “The administration has actually made a serious move in making a difference by diversifying the economy into agriculture.
“Much is needed to be done by the incoming administration because most of the money that this administration has spent in revamping the economy through agriculture were channeled into wrong hands. They gave the money to political farmers; that is why we don’t have anything commensurate to what they say they have given to Nigerian farmers. Describing agriculture as a veritable tool for cushioning the impact of insecurity in the country, he noted that it could reduce unemployment by absorbing most idle youths into the sector.
“You can imagine why the youth are restive. There is no job for them. But I want to assure Nigeria that if this government can pay more attention to agriculture, it is going to take about 60 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force, which we believe that most of these boys and girls roaming the streets without jobs, will have something to do”, he added. Members of the association, he said, had positioned themselves to effect a positive change with agricultural development. He recalled there was a time he made a presentation in Minna, Niger State, which prompted the Vice President-elect, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, to direct the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Abubakar to pay a special attention to the association.
Douglas noted that Bagudu was assigned to sift the real farmers in the country from the political ones. Asked to differentiate political farmers from real farmers, he said, “The political farmers are those farmers, who have already structured their land, already have members cluster in all the areas of the federation. All we need is the manpower. All we need is the assistance from the government. We are farmers that have access to land, we have the equipment to make farming thrive in Nigeria”.