From campaigns by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to take over the presidency to victory and the eventual second term of President Muhamadu Buhari, there have been a lot of failed promises and inconsistencies in policy and implementation.
However, the only thing that has been consistent in policy speeches by the administration is the call on Nigerians to go back to farming. This call is based on the assumption that things were better in the days when almost everyone practices subsistence farming, an entirely different issue which has been proved to be a false assumption. Some of these calls by the administration are well documented in news reports so much that they have now become inordinate.
Another factor that proves this as inordinate of is the fact that the call and policy actions taken have neither grown the sector significantly nor translated to more food security for Nigerians. Because of the slapdash manner that a lot of things are handled in Nigeria, the many campaigns for people to go back to school and the efforts being made by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development have not yielded much result.
Still, the call for people to return to the farm persists in official quarters and it is usually touted like it is a magic wand.
The latest of this is the tweet posted on the account of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, quoting Dr. Zainab Ahmed, the Federal Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning as saying that “We have to encourage people to go back to farming and also encourage those people to maximize the product that comes out of farming.” This quote ignores the many issues that dog the agric sector and it shows that at the official level, there is a deliberate attempt to ignore these issues too.
Some of the issues are unstable prices, lack of insurance, climate change, lack of training, lack of quality input, and lack of electricity for preservation, lack of good access roads, an archaic export policy and insecurity. There have been cases of farmers being kidnapped from their farms across the country and this has remained largely unchecked, it is as though the Federal Government is incapable of securing the people.
Until this and many other issues surrounding farming are solved decisively, the call for people to return to farming will not work and more people will run from farming, thereby plunging Nigeria in to a food crisis.
Another reasonable perspective that complements this is a tweet by Twitter user, Amara Nwankpa through his Twitter account @Nwankpa_A which states that “what the world wants to buy from Nigeria is no longer oil. It is content created by its young people.” This is the truth and recent events have further confirmed it. Nigeria has thrived immensely in the technology, arts and cultural spaces. Nigerians in the performing, literary and visual arts sectors are global stars.
The attempt at diversification is better aimed at other sectors where Nigerians are already thriving with no government support and not just agriculture as the government is currently doing.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”