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Federal Minister of Agriculture, Adesina

By Patrick Dele Cole
18 May 2015   |   3:20 am
I REALLY did not want to write this piece against Dr. (Akinwumi) Adesina. I have never met him but I have a fundamental difficulty with Dr. Adesina, and one or two others who worked for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Adesina

Adesina

I REALLY did not want to write this piece against Dr. (Akinwumi) Adesina. I have never met him but I have a fundamental difficulty with Dr. Adesina, and one or two others who worked for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Intellect must always be used to promote progress, never to self flagellation. It must not be used as a hired gun.

Dr. Adesina and I have a number of common friends who have been most vocal in praising his intellect, and they have further told me that the agricultural revolution going on in the country at the moment is a product of Dr. Adesina’s initiative.

His praise singers tell me he has brought sanity to the whole fertilizer business – that farmers now get the fertilizer they need.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), job for which he is now being proposed really has nothing to do with his agricultural accolades which include, I am told, the introduction of cassava to the making of bread in Nigeria. Other achievements include the increase in production of rice etc. – quite an impressive Curriculum Vitae.

Except I am not sure, not a single fact mentioned above is measurable in actual terms. Every farmer knows how many tubers he plants, year after year. So where are our figures for the increase in yam production? Or cassava production? There is no end to the billions of Naira spent by the Ministry of Agriculture, what we do not have is one single statistic.

For example, we were told during the days of Dr. Adesina’s control of Agriculture that Nigeria imported 25% less rice in one year and this fact was immediately translated to mean we were growing more rice. As I write, there is not a single figure of actual production of agricultural products, measured over time, that we can attribute to the Minister.

Towards the end of last year there was a massive propaganda on aqua culture. I know that a lot of Nigerians now grow cat fish but that came from the Ministry of Agriculture. I am certain it did not.

This is a country that grew cotton, maize, millet, and many other crops. Where are the warehouses and silos full of agriculture production? Indeed where is the policy to encourage people to return from the city to the farm? How do we get people out of poverty if they do not grow out of it?

Is it fruits that we grow more of? Which ones and by how much? The propaganda towards the end of the regime of President Jonathan on both the agriculture and industry – they linked them up, not me – that the more you grow, you could then go into food processing, etc.

Worse of all, there was this silly idea about the purchase of 600,000 handsets for farmers. I have heard of daft schemes but that takes the cake. How can anyone live that down?

“Farmers have been introduced to the use of GSM in other countries. This is usually preceded by months of training on radio, town and village meetings to familiarize the farmers with the new software applications already in the specially built GSMs for farmers. Did Dr. Adesina gifts have special apps for farmers and the establishment of dedicated platforms for farmers? I saw no such campaign in Dr. Adesina’s programme for farmers.

What gets me is that men of intellect when asked to espouse obvious political stupidity should be courageous enough to let their intellect shine through.

What can we really say of Dr. Adesina’s achievements? Can we honestly say that the billions spent in agriculture were justified? I cannot say so – and this is why Nigeria has not progressed. We need to produce more, we had an intellect able to deliver this and what do we get?

I am sorry to mess up another Nigerian, about to get a good United Nations job. I cannot help it. Oh, by the way, cassava bread was developed in the University of Ife over 30 years ago.

• Ambassador Cole (OFR) is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.