Nigeria in economic crisis, says Audu Ogbeh
• Seeks end to importation, denies knowledge of N100b for herdsmen
Outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, has declared that Nigeria is in serious economic crisis and that super power economies are bent on under-developing the productive sectors due global economic protectionism and expansionist agenda.
Ogbeh disclosed this in and interview with The Guardian in Abuja, saying the culture of importation and ignoring the agricultural sector since independence has made the country to struggle economically.
Responding to a question on the use cassava and wheat flour as a national policy to promote import substitution, he said: “We do not hate wheat-based flour, but we can reduce the volume, because the issue is, when we talk about reducing imports, people think we are their enemies. The truth is that our country is in trouble.
“We cannot keep importing when too many people have no jobs and we have good alternatives. How can a country continue to believe that importation is the final word?
“We cannot afford it. Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said yesterday that our current foreign reserves would only last us for nine months if we were to go wild again importing.”
While explaining the cattle ranch development projects and N100b allegedly offered herdsmen, he said the cattle ranch project was part of the solution to the herder-farmers crises, insisting that he was no aware of any N100b given to herders.
He said the idea did not emanate from the ministry and that nobody had ever informed him of such a disbursement.
Ogbeh added that in developed and some developing economies like Tanzania, cattle breeders no longer roam, saying: “In Pakistan, they no longer roam. This same thing going on now went on in the USA.
“It created crises and that is why they still have cowboys and the people have ranches. In South Africa and Botswana, cattle no longer roam. It is only here that cattle roam. And I am asking, why did government in the past not recognise this would pose danger 40 to 50 years ago?”
He said government would create Agro-Rangers to ensure farming activities are restored to areas where insurgency, kidnapping and farmer-herder crises have disrupted farming.
He explained that the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Nigerian Army would train the Rangers, adding that they would be available to farmers across the country to checkmate the evil perpetrators.