Edo State Governor, Adams Aliu Oshiomhole popularly called ‘Osho Baba’ (whatever that means) by his admirers, is at it again. Of late, he has been on a campaign of calumny with singular objective to paint every single part of the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan as a dismal failure. If he is not talking about alleged withdrawals from the Excess Crude Account, it is Federation Account, NNPC probe, Ministry of Finance including Okonjo-Iweala, or other sundry matters. What remains is for the Edo Governor to carry gun and shoot his fellow Niger-Deltan, Jonathan, and all those that worked under that administration.
What baffles me is how human beings easily capitulate under pressure. Three years ago when he was seeking re-election, this same man was frolicking and boot-licking with Jonathan, praising him to high heavens. Today, ‘Osho Baba’ has become Buhari’s apostle. What’s the guarantee he will tomorrow not treat Buhari same way if things go awry?
Let me use his recent tantrum for illustration. In ‘The Nation’ Newspaper of August 16th, 2015, the querulous, garrulous and loquacious governor described the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of former president Jonathan as a big scam, arguing that the Nigeria was still import-dependent on rice and other foods. Coming from a Governor who prides himself as a progressive and somebody who has spent most of his career fighting falsehood and oppression, his Excellency’s comments on ATA – ably implemented by former Agriculture Minister Dr Akin Adesina and now president elect of African Development Bank, can only be described as unfortunate, ill-advised, and playing unnecessary politics with Nigeria’s food security and efforts to diversify the economy away from oil.
Does Governor Oshiomhole not know that under ATA efficient distribution of subsidized farm inputs– also known as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), reached 14.3million farmers with 1.3million MT of fertilizer, 102,703MT of improved rice seeds, 67,991MT of improved maize seeds, 6,171MT of improved cotton seeds, 130 million stems of cassava, 45.5million seedlings of cocoa, nine million seedlings of oil palm amongst many other crops between 2012-2014? Those inputs helped produce an additional 21million MT of foods that has acted as a buffer against inflation with the devaluation of the Naira.
Can Comrade Governor be ignorant of the fact that lending by commercial banks to agriculture increased from 0.07% in 2011 to 5% in 2014 and banks lent a total of N27.5 billion to fertilizer and seed companies? New investment in the fertilizer sector totaled $5billion from major companies such as Indorama, Dangote, and Notore. Average fertilizer usage also rose from 13kg/Ha in 2011 to 80kg/Ha in 2014. Is the Governor not aware that there were only 11 seed companies in Nigeria producing 14,000MT of improved seeds but this has now risen to 134 seed companies doing 174,000MT of seeds. Nigeria has become world leader in the use of ICT to reach farmers directly with farm inputs and the World Bank is trying to scale out this efficient system of ensuring high productivity of small holder farmers across Africa?
Can he fail to recognize that ATA was Nigeria’s equivalent of the ‘green revolution’ that took place in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, where new highly productive varieties of rice and wheat, and the chemical fertilizers that helped them achieve their potential, led to a doubling and tripling of yield and self-sufficiency in food for India, Pakistan, Thailand and many other Asian countries? Just like in Asia, GESS has led to a doubling of yields of rice, maize, cocoa, and a 50% increase in yields of sorghum, soybean, and groundnuts between 2012 and 2014.
How is it possible for a political leader of a State as enlightened as Edo feign ignorance of the fact that the number of integrated rice mills, needed to produce parboiled rice preferred by Nigerians, grow under Jonathan administration from one in 2010 to 24 in 2014? And that our parboiled rice milling capacity increased from 70,000MT to 800,000MT. Demand for import quality grade parboiled rice is estimated at 2.5million MT in Nigeria. It was due to the gap in milling capacity that the Federal Executive Council approved N9billion fund to support private sector companies to acquire nine new 36,000MT/annum factories to further raise the capacity to 1.2million MT, leaving a national supply gap of 1.3million MT that was to be met by controlled imports under the new rice policy. The new Rice Policy, aimed at reducing the amount of rice imports and instead encourage new domestic rice investments in the nation, has led to new investments in rice production and milling of over N500billion, including N200billion by Aliko Dangote, of which a 200,000MT/annum mill and 10,000HA will be located in Edo State.
Governor Oshiomhole also alleged that the past government frittered away over N800billion on waivers for rice millers and others, killing local rice production and making agriculture unattractive. First of all to set the record straight, the total amount owed Government by rice importers who imported beyond their approval is put at N30billion on the website of the Nigerian customs and in various newspaper adverts, not the wild figure given by the Governor.
The truth is under ATA, Nigeria has made giant strides towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice. Between 2011 and 2014, a total of six million rice farmers were reached with improved rice seeds and fertilizer and an additional two million hectares cultivated. National paddy rice production rose by an additional 7 million MT and the nation reached 85% sufficiency in rice production. Furthermore, for the first time in Nigeria, rice cultivation is twice a year, in the wet and dry season.
There are many other shining examples of excellent progress in food and livestock value chains under ATA that one need to draw Governor Oshiomole’s attention to. For sake of time and space we will just mention a few here. The partial replacement of imported wheat with High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread and confectioneries, also known as the 20% cassava bread initiative, has recorded major successes. In 2013, the two largest wheat millers in the country that together account for 70% of all wheat flour milled in the country, Honeywell and Flour Mills of Nigeria, launched branded 10% High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) composite flour products. By 2014, all wheat millers in the country were already adding between 3-4% of HQCF to all bread eaten in Nigeria. Efforts to reduce wheat imports are already showing progress. Wheat imports declined from an all-time high of 4,051,000 MT in 2010 to 3,700,000 MT in 2013. The HQCF intervention is an additional one million MT fresh root markets for our cassava farmers. .
In Oil Palm value chain, a total of 9 million sprouted oil palm value nuts were distributed to 45,353 small and large oil palm estate owners between 2013 and 2015. Additional Crude Palm Oil (CPO) production due to these interventions is projected to be 400,000 MT of crude oil palm which would close the gap of 350,000MT of crude oil palm that is currently being imported. There has been well over N100billion new investment in crude oil palm production in the country.
Suffice it to say that Nigeria’s agricultural sector has experienced major reforms and transformation under the leadership of Jonathan with Akinwumi Adesina as Agric Minister. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the agricultural sector grew by 9.19% (year-on-year) in Q 3 of 2014, up by 2.7% points from Q3 of 2013. The agricultural sector grew by 38.53% between 3rd and 4th quarters of 2014, with crop production being the main driver, with a growth of 43.5%. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda has proven to be a well thought out policy with great gains for Nigeria which people like our comrade Governor needs to take good note of and stop deceiving Nigerians and the global community.
The emerging trend whereby political leaders with shallow minds and negative knowledge of the country pollute the minds of others with falsehood just to be in the good books of president Buhari is very dangerous for a heterogeneous nation like Nigeria and Mr. President should be careful of such persons.


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