Food blockade: Inject 15% of budgets into agric, Adams urges South-West govs

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Gbenga Adeniji and Dele Ogunyemi

The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, has urged the six governors in the South-West to inject at least 15 per cent of their states’ annual budgets into agriculture.

He noted that such a step would play a huge role in the provision of sustainable food production for the region.

Adams, while speaking on Friday during a press conference on food blockade to the region by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria, added that the six state governments could copy the Rwandan agric model to achieve set goals.

The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria on February 25 declared a nationwide strike, leading to stoppage of food supply to the southern part of the country. The union hinged its decision on the alleged killing of its members and property lost during the #EndSARS protests and the Sasa market crisis in Oyo State, demanding N4.75bn compensation from the Federal Government.

The strike was called off on Wednesday.  The South-West has also been at the mercy of killer herdsmen, kidnapping, raping with cattle destroying farmlands.

The Aare Ona Kakanfo noted that investment in agriculture would provide employment, enhance internally generated revenue, provide food security, reduce urban congestion and enlarge the coast for participatory modernised agriculture.

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Adams, who claimed that the South-West spent more than N8bn on beef daily, said it was wrong for the northern traders to block foodstuffs to the region.

He also called on stakeholders in the South-West, including security groups, to provide the necessary security for farmers to produce enough food for the region.

Adams said, “I urge the South-West governors to inject at least 15 per cent of their annual budget into agriculture. This will play a huge role in providing sustainable food production for the region. It is embarrassing for the North to threaten our region with an unwarranted blockade that is of no use to us. I have it on good record that the South spends over N8bn daily on cow consumption. It is an embarrassment for the North to think that they are doing the South a favour. I also have figures of the several billions we spend daily on perishable products. But the truth is that the blockade that had been suspended now seemed to be a blessing to us because it will trigger an agricultural revolution in the South-West that will definitely change the ugly narratives of the past.

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“I think it is the responsibility of all the South-West governors to swiftly respond to the threat and seek a better approach to enhance both small and large-scale farming across the region and further strengthen the region’s security architecture.’’

Also present at the meeting, spokesperson for the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said the South-West could conveniently feed itself without dependence on any other region, adding that there was an urgent need to return to farm.

He described the food blockade as a challenge to the South-West which he said mainly made its IGR from agriculture during the pre-independence era.

Another Afenifere chieftain, Sola Lawal, noted that the leadership of the Yoruba nation backed Adams’ South-West security Stakeholders Group to provide adequate security for the people in the region. Lawal said if there was adequate security in the region, farmers would be able to produce enough food for people in the region.

Meanwhile, leadership of a human rights group, Value Rebirth Centre, on Friday kicked against the N4.75bn purportedly earmarked by the Federal Government for the AUFCDN after calling off its strike.

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The AUFCDN President, Muhammad Tahir, on Wednesday in Abuja announced the Federal Government’s decision after a meeting brokered with the leaders of the union by the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

But the Executive Director of the centre, Edewor Egedegbe, said, “The decision of the Federal Government to compensate the northern traders to the tune of N4.75bn from the patrimony of this country is ill- advised because that also is going to create another conflict that will raise issues.”

Speaking with journalists shortly after delivering a lecture titled, ‘Conflict Resolution and Counselling Skills/Community Engagement,’ at a training organised by the International Federation of Women Lawyers, Delta State branch,  Egedegbe, urged the Federal Government to “reconsider the decision to avert further conflicts, noting, that it had many questions to answer on the matter.

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