Here’s why Ajimobi shouldn’t entirely bank on agric to restore Oyo economy
Yesterday, Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had what appeared to be a hurriedly arranged economic meeting with royal fathers and caretakers of the 33 local governments in Oyo state. Prior to the event, I secretly was hoping the governor would present something that would really work but considering the aftermath of the meeting, I really doubt it would bring about any significant impact in turning around the awful state of Oyo state’s economy which has gotten so bad that the governor is using gbanko method to deal with the agitation of civil servants over their unpaid salaries and allowances.
Back to the story of the governor’s meeting with the leaders.
According to media report, the governor said the fall in oil price has done more good than harm as it has “opened our eyes to the effectiveness of mechanised farming as our saving grace”.
So the governor is exploring agric as a way of boosting the state’s economy. He supported his position by giving interesting stats on agric potentials in Oyo state.
Here is what the governor is proposing:
- 28 out of the 33 local government areas in the state had been identified as agrarian
- 100 hectares of land would be set aside in each of the council areas for agriculture.
- The scheme would be all-inclusive,
- It would involve students, civil servants, the state-owned College of Agriculture, Igboora as well as other agricultural research institutions based in the state.
- It would be driven by the monarchs
- Royal fathers would immediately embark on the mobilization of subjects on the need for them to see agriculture as the major bail out from the economic crisis currently confronting the country
According to the governor, Oyo has the largest expanse of arable land in the whole of the South with 28,545 kilometre square, adding that it also has the largest concentration of agricultural research institutions in Nigeria.
As cool as promoting agric may sound, it would not achieve any desired results if there are no incentives. Let the researchers say agric can be practised across Oyo state yet no one will practice agric if there is nothing to lure them to agric. The catch was what I was looking for throughout the governor’s speech but I didn’t see or hear any. The only way he planned to get people to embrace his policy (which isn’t even a policy) would be the efforts of the royal fathers in mobilising their subjects.
No matter how positive the governor is with agric, the policy will fail since his policy lacks motivation. You are asking people to go into mechanised farming without bringing any partnering financial institution on board. So you are expecting me to go and buy machines and till the ground without you promising me anything?
The policy would not need to be promoted by the royal fathers if the governor had announced the Bank of Industry (BoI) or any other financial institution would be providing funds for those that will participate in the scheme. He would also have a very popular proposal if there are plans in place to buy the farm produce from the farmers without any stress.
Unemployed youths in Oyo state that don’t have any other means of livelihood apart from Okada would just hiss and ignore any awareness campaign on this project since it would require abandoning their bikes and tilling the ground without any form of support or guarantee. I thought the governor would say he has been able to secure an agreement with manufacturing companies in Ireland and elsewhere on the supply of agric products.
He could have just partnered with IITA sef and I would take the initiative as a serious one.
My initial conclusion on Ajimobi’s agric project was to describe it as a mere idea that was not well thought through and without the right partners on board. Then I read that the governor said government agencies will be visiting communities to enlighten royal fathers and community people on ways to go about the initiative without undermining the necessary inputs of the government as it had always been. Then I concluded that the initiative was just another political jamboree and would create opportunities for government’s agencies to ‘blow’ the very limited funds in the government’s coffers – a parting gift from an outgoing governor.