It was seen as an impressive idea for development theorists, progressive agricultural economists, and Medium/Large scale Entrepreneur in agricultural sector, when the President Buhari-Led administration, at the beginning of the tenure in 2015, mentioned diversification as a way forward to improve the economy of the country. Considering the mono-economic nature of the country where Oil had been the only source of revenue, the president therefore considered revival of agricultural sector to highly complement revenue from the oil and as a means of survival for youths, middle aged and old aged people who are interested in farming.[AdSense-B]
Having considered this idea as remarkable, its policy implementation is rough, directionless, and indefinable due to many factors including the heart-bleeding Fulani Herdsmen menace. In as much as Agriculture remains one of the viable best channels for diversification of Nigeria economy, considering the fertility of the land, stable weather and human capital resources available at our disposal, conducive environment for its strive must remain not only supreme but also sacrosanct, hence, inevitable social security for farmers.
To support the vision of the president on agriculture, virtually every state in the country has embraced the development. Governors of each state are not only equipping small/medium scale famers but are also investing their resources on farm settlement to improve food provisions for the people, and in a long run engaging young and old who have flair for agriculture, for the improvement of their standard of living and generate more income for themselves in particular and the nation in geneal. A good example is the collaboration between Lagos and Kebi States to provide LAKE Rice for the people of the states in every festive period, at affordable price. Also, Benue State is popularly known as the food basket of Nigeria due to her contributions leading to an improvement in agricultural produce, though not only to support the vision of the president but the tradition of the state on food production.[AdSense-B]
With reference to Obafemi Awolowo as a premier leader of the western region during regional system of govenment, and as to why he was referred to as the best president Nigeria never had, agriculture was one of the areas in which he triumphed. Obafemi Awolowo, with the exclusion of Lagos, created the farm settlements in each state under the region. After the collapse of the regional government, each of the state afterwards begins the management of the farm settlement within their state region. Thus, the regime of Obafemi Awolowo as the premier leader succeeded in the provision of basic needs for the people of the region, not because there were fewer populations, not because life was easy, nor there was corrupt-free society, but ultimately because he dedicated to farming and cultivation business. The truncation of agriculture as a source of revenue in Nigeria was possible due to discovery of Oil.
It is important to mention at this juncture that after the discovery of Oil which bastardized the farming visualization, there came a radical shift from agriculture to Oil. Urbanization emerged, where people aggressively migrated permanently from rural areas in search for greener pasture through the growing industrialization, and abandoning the agricultural system, leaving a very few numbers of people at the village for farming business. This process has being on the persistent increase ever since Oil has been discovered in 1958. The aftermath of this discovery had both positive and diverse consequences on the people and the economy at large.
Due to the increase in Rural-Urban migration, people who settled for agricultural production fled to the city. As a result, shortage of food supply for human consumption continues to exist. The combination of the shortage of food supply and increase of money in circulation contribute to persistent inflation of food price, hence, the increase in importation of food. Thus, the shortage of food supply has been regarded as one of the challenging issues in the country which requires urgent attention. Seeing the importation of foods, shortages of food supplies, and mono economic system as inappropriate, the Buhari-led administration see it as pertinent to adequately venture more into agricultural production. Many states, as mentioned earlier, therefore incorporated the idea into their developmental plan.
In the same vein, the Oyo state government in lieu to support the Mr. President on diversification of Nigeria economy, recently inaugurated a farm settlement and engaged 1,000 (One thousand) youth farmers to pioneer organic farming for the welfare of the masses and the need to turn the beneficiary into employer of labor. Subsequently, the Ogun state government has also revived a farm settlement in the state to also play the roles of welfare and employment opportunity for the young and old who have interest in farming. This insinuates that agricultural sector has been reviving and is considered as an alternative to diversify the economy of the state.[AdSense-B]
Having established the fact that Nigerian states are imbibing the culture of diversification mainly through agricultural sector, the parasite for its achievement has failed to seize – Fulani Herdsmen. In a country that is encouraging farming in all ramifications, the issue concerning grazing, ranches and Fulani herdsmen should not have been allowed to truncate the activities of farmers in the farm. As beautiful as the idea is to diversify through agricultural sector, the recent persistence activities of Fulani herdsmen are seriously scaring the farmers, and discouraging the new chap to invest in agriculture in a large scale. Farmers are not only pursued and persecuted from their farms, they are also killed en mass. The most annoying part is that no herder has been arrested and prosecuted ever since the menace has begun.
The threat has become so rampant that even recently in Ibadan Oyo state, as the controversy to find grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen across continues, some hoodlums, allegedly including herdsmen, invaded a farm belonging to a former secretary to the Oyo state government, Mr. Ayodele Adigun and forced settlers in the place to flee their residence. The invaders stormed the farm settlement at Lagun, in Lagelu Local government area of the state in the night with sophisticated weapons. The people and farm settlers in Ijaye farm settlement of Akinyele Local government of the state, in the same vein, have severally called on the state government to break their silence on the herdsmen activities and their zeal to invade their land at all cost. This call has to yield positive response to avoid the repetition of incidence that occurred between Fulani herdsmen and local hunters in Benue State where over 70 (Seventy) people were allegedly killed by Fulani herdsmen.
In conclusion, agricultural sector is the best and capable sector for diversification of economy in Nigeria, if there is a friendly environment for farmers to freely exhibit their exercise, considering the stable weather, nature of the land, human capital, and most importantly the market for the agricultural produce. Farmers have embraced the Mr. President’s plan to diversify the economy, and have therefore gone to farm, with little or no support from the federal and state government, but the activities of herdsmen are truncating that of the farmers. Therefore, speedy intervention of federal and all state government is highly needed. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state has enacted the anti-grazing law in the state as his efforts to stop the menace, and there has been little or no clash of farmers and herders in Ekiti state ever since then. Even if other state could not adopt the anti-grazing formula as adopted by the governor Fayose, each of the states can adopt best solution from their respective states to tackle the herdsmen menace. This is because social scientists have argued that social issues that are peculiar to different societies are best solved when each of the societies adopts solution from their respective environment that best suit their society.
Written by: AWOSANYA, Abiodun Rauf
About the Author
AWOSANYA, Abiodun Rauf bagged an MSC, Sociology (Demography) at University of Ibadan (UI); BSC, Sociology at Lagos State University (LASU); and NCE, Maths & Econs at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED). He has written series of articles including Medical Checkup and Compulsory Annual Leave among LASTMA Staff, Record Management and Vital Cases in LASTMA, AND Open Letter to the Chairman Igbogbo-Baiyeku LCDA. All published.