Economic experts have identified agriculture as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy providing employment to over 60 per cent of the population.
At independence in 1960, Nigeria was the leading producer of cash crops such as palm oil, groundnut, cotton and cocoa globally.
The sector accounted for more than half of the nation’s Foreign Exchange Earnings (FOREX) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With discovery of crude oil and subsequent development of petroleum industry, agriculture witnessed gradual setbacks which made Nigeria to fall in the global commodity market rankings.
To address the ugly trend, successive administrations initiated various policies and programmes to reinvigorate the sector and enhance food security in the country.
In 1972, the Yakubu Gowon administration introduced the National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP), and in 1976, the Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime rolled out Operation Feed the Nation (OFN).
Also; In April 1980, the Shehu Shagari administration introduced the Green Revolution Programme (GRP), to ensure self-sufficiency in food production through introduction of mechanise system of agriculture, improved varieties seeds and enhance farmer extension services.
Similarly; the democratically elected Obasanjo’s administration initiated the National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS) in 2003.The programme was replaced by the National Food Sector Plan (NFSP) anchored in 2007 by late President Umaru Yar’Adua.In 2011, the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration introduced the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) which metamorphosed into the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) under President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.The programmes focussed at accelerating rapid transformation of agriculture, encourage productivity and processing, promote value addition, farmer enterprising skills and provide market for the produce to achieve self-sufficiency and national food security.
The programmes failed to achieve their noble objectives due to lack of continuity by successive governments.
However, stakeholders in the sector expressed divergent views as to whether agriculture made positive contributions or otherwise to national development.
Alhaji Umar Daware, the Adamawa Commissioner for Agriculture, said agriculture went through series of transformation geared towards making it a major contributor to national economic development.
He said that pre and post independence era had been characterised by agricultural initiatives such as Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution and current Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
He said the programmes assisted farmers, increased productivity and processing, reduce poverty and enhance food security in the past 62 years.
This, he said, were achieved through innovative interventions that enhanced farmer access to inputs, extension services, enterprising skills and agricultural financing.
Abdussalam Gulak and AbdulRazaq Ahmed, rice growers in Yola, said agriculture made significant progress towards encouraging food production under the ABP scheme.
They, however, said that proactive measures were imperative to encourage production of fertilisers, chemicals and other farming implements in the country.
“This will reduce high cost of fertiliser and inputs, and encourage agricultural productivity”.
Also, Ibrahim Zubairu, Chairman, Maize Growers, Farmers and Manufacturers Association (MAGFAMAN) in Bauchi State, said about 10,000 farmers benefitted from farm support services under the ABP scheme in the state.
He said farmers received fertilisers, seeds, water pumps, chemicals, sprayers, among others under the programme.
Addtionally; Mr Ibrahim Sadiq, Coordinator, Wheat Farmers, Processors and Marketers’ Association of Nigeria (WFPMAN), said the ABP initiative encouraged farmers to engage in dry season activities.
“Farmers are motivated by the government support, which enabled them to record bumper harvest,” he said.
Corroborating Sadiq, Marka Abbas, Chairperson, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), said the ABP programme encouraged more women to engage in agriculture since inception.
“Many women farmers in recent years engage in farming activities due to awareness creation and sound farmer support services initiated by the Federal Government,” she said.
In Jigawa, rice farmers said agricultural sector witnessed unprecedented achievements under President Buhari’s administration through the implementation of ABP.
The sector, the farmers said, enjoyed massive deployment of resources and initiatives aimed at achieving self sufficiency in rice production.
A rice grower, Misbahu Sadik, said farmers received loans and inputs to accelerate cultivation of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, cotton, groundnut and soybeans as well as fishery, poultry and livestock productions.
Another farmer, Idrisa Guda, said Nigeria made progress in irrigation farming, adding the achievements couldn’t have been possible without government support in the development of irrigation schemes and farmer support services.
“Without government support on irrigation over the years, Nigeria could have found it difficult to feed itself because of the uncertainties associated with rain fed farming,” he said.
While Malam Abubakar Danladi, an agro dealer noted that the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) had enabled farmers to access fertilisers at affordable prices thereby addressing scarcity of the commodity.
In his contribution, a 25-year-old farmer, Basiru Dan Mai Awara, called on the government to regulate prices of fertilisers.
This, he said, would enable farmers to access the commodity at N10,000 as against its current prices of N30,000 per 50kg bag.
Also commenting, Malam Umaru Abubakar, said though the achievements were there but farmers who are the players are still facing a lot of challenges, ranging from lack of access to subsidised inputs, preservation and processing technologies.
“Unlike before the market value of rice and other commodities were poor thereby exposing farmers to losses, but things changed sequel to the ban on importation of rice.
“The measure put smile on the face farmers making agriculture lucrative and attractive,” he said.
In Yobe, the state government said it spent over N2.9 billion on procurement of fertilisers in the past three years.
Dr Mairo Amshi, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural resources, said that N1.5 billion of the amount was spent on the procurement of 3,000 tones of NPK brand of fertiliser in 2021, adding the commodity was sold to farmers at subsidised rate of N13,000 per bag.
She said that N1.4 billion was spent on the purchase of 7,500 tones of NPK fertiliser in 2020, and sold to he farmers at N5,000 per bag, representing 40 per cent subsidy.
She said in 2019, government spent N882 million on procurement of 40 tractors, given as loans to large scale farmers at N11million each, payable within four years.
Amshi said the state, in collaboration with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), had vaccinated over 1.2 million cattle, sheep, goats and dogs.
The commissioner said the state’s Livestock Development Programme was supported by 135 veterinary surgeons, 47 animal scientists, five equipped veterinary clinics and 17 Area Livestock offices across the state.
She said the state, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), set up livestock development centres at , Badegana and Gurjaje grazing reserves.
The centres, she said, had been equipped with boreholes, earth dams, veterinary clinics, feed lots, fish ponds, access roads, electricity, artificial insemination and milk collection units, among others.
Amshi said a Livestock Investigation and Breeding Centres (LIBC) was also established by at Nguru to enhance livestock production.
While 2,000 hectres of land had been developed to facilitate take off of the 2022 LAVA irrigation scheme in parts of the state.
According to Amshi, the state, in collaboration with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, had set up National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) North-East Outreach Station in Damaturu.
She said the state also got approval to participate in the Federal Government’s Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Programme ( L-Pres Programme).
For his part, Mr Stephen Maduwa, Chairman, Rice farmers Association (RIFAN) in Adamawa, said Nigeria had made giant stride in its bid to become a leading rice producer in the world.
Maduwa, therefore, urged youth to embrace agriculture, set up their businesses to become self-reliant and employers of labour.
The Yobe Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has pledged to provide support for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards a hitch-free 2023 general election.
The State NSCDC Commandant, Mr Sa’idu Aliyu, stated this when he hosted the state INEC officials on a courtesy visit in his office on Thursday in Damaturu.
Aliyu said that the command would make adequate security arrangement before, during and after election to ensure that it was credible.
“I want to say that we are ready to apply all arsenals needed to provide security and safety for the election in the state,” he said.
Speaking, Alhaji Abatcha Bukar, the state INEC Administration Secretary, applauded the command for its role in ensuring smooth conduct of the 2019 general election.
He solicited for continuous support of the command for a successful 2023 general election.
Bukar presented a document containing the summary of registration areas and polling units in the state for the 2023 poll, to Aliyu for guidance.
Yobe government says it has establishdd four specialists and eight general hospitals to enhance delivery of quality healthcare services at the grassroots.
The Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Lawan Gana stated this at a news conference on Tuesday in Damaturu.
He said four general hospitals had been upgraded to specialist facilities in Buni Yadi, Postiskum, Gashua and Geidam while Machina, Yusufari and Jaji Maji healthcare centres upgraded to general hospitals.
Others were Babbangida, Bara, Buni-Gari, Yunusari and Asibitin Malam Baba, Nguru.
Gana disclosed that a Special Baby Care unit had been set up at Specialist Hispital, Gashua, while 20-bed capacity isolation centres established at Potiskum, Gashua and Yunusari Specialist Hospitals.
The commissioner said the state government also upgraded the Emergency Paediatric Unit and Trauma Centre at Specialist Hospital, Damaturu as well as provision of modern equipment at general hospital Damagum, Buni Yadi, Gashua, Potiskum, among others.
He commended Gov. Mai Mala Buni for his commitment towards transforming healthcare services in the state.
The Yobe Drug and Medical Consumables Management Agency (YODMA) says it has expanded N300 million annually on its Free Drug Programme.
The Executive Secretary of the Agency, Mr Abdulazeez Mohammed stated this at a news conference on Tuesday in Damaturu.
According to him, the programme targets poorest of the poor who cannot afford the drug.
He said from 2020 to date, the Agency had rolled out Drug Reagents and Medical Consumables Revolving Fund in 336 primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities across the state.
The measure, he said, drastically addressed shortage of drug in its stock, representing 8.4 per cent in 2022 as against 12.24 per cent in 2021. The executive secretary said the Agency had engaged 12 pharmacists and two pharmacy technicians to fasttrack implementation of its mandate.
He said the agency also inaugurated a Zonal Warehouse in Postiskum, renovated and equipped central medical store in Damaturu and two other zonal warehouses in Gashua and Nguru.
Mohammed listed other achievements to include the adoption of the national blueprint for supply chain management system and the establishment of M-supply electronic software for inventory management.
Others were procurement of two operational vehicles, and Public Private Partnership agreements with a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group, to provide drugs at a distributor price with flexible payment terms.
Experts in the environment sector have urged governments and other stakeholders in the North-East, to increase investment in water infrastructure to ensure adequate provision of water for the people.
The experts including environmentalists, engineers and government officials, said such investiment would help to address water-related challenges.
They made the call while responding to a survey on water supply systems by the News Agency of Nigeria in Bauchi, Damaturu, Dutse, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola.According to them, water is critical to human existence because no one can survive without it.
Mr Nuhu Solomon, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) expert in Damaturu, streesd the need for more investment in water infrastructure to enhance water supply services in the state.
He said there was an urgent need for upgrade and regular maintenance of water plants that no longer provide sufficient water to consumers due to growing population.
The expert said skilled professionals are also needed to effectively manage water treatment plants, adding effective data system must be put in place for planning and management of the plants .
Solomon identified poor data as one of the obstacles militating against quality water supply at the grassroots.
“It is important to know the number of boreholes we have in Damaturu, and the quantity of daily water supply.
“People are being tariffed and how much money you have made from them.
“Whether the source is ground water or surface water like dams, there must be cost recovery if the supply is to be sustained,” he said.
The expert advised governments to regulate indiscriminate drilling of boreholes to mitigate depletion of ground water.
“Sometimes the ground water is being contaminated and unhygienic.
“People need to know the source of their water, how it is transported and ensure that the water is not in contact with contaminant,” he said.
Corroborating Solomon; some residents of Dutse, Jigawa, said practical measures were imperative to ensure adequate and steady water supply to the people.
Malam Abdulkadir Muhammad, a resident of Godiya Miyetti area of Dutse, said they relied on unwholesome water from vendors popularly called ” Yangaruwa”.
He said the residents have been experiencing water scarcity, a trend which forced them to patronise water vendors in spite of impurities and exorbitant prices.
“A 25 litre keg of water is being sold at N50 as against its old price of N30,” he said.
Also, Malam Hassan Umar, a resident of Takur Site, decried the acute water scarcity in spite of available boreholes in the area.
He said the existing handpumps could not meet the high demand of water due to the growing population in the area.
However, Abba Suraj, a resident of Kazaure town in Kazaure Local Government Area of the state, commended the Federal Government over the execution of small water scheme project in the area.
He said the project is designed with 10 million litres daily supply capacity, adding that the gesture enhanced access to portable water in the area.
Similarly, the Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), said it has provided 470 hand pumps in rural communities across the 20 local government areas of the state in the past two years.
Mr Mohammmed Babagana, Mobilisation Officer of the agency, said the government in collaboration with development partners initiated viable projects to enhance access to safe drinking water in major towns and rural dwellings across the state.
“The state government in collaboration with British Department for International Development (DFID), and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are implementing Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN) project in 12 LGAs.“About 60 hand pumps and 150 toilets had been provided in health facilities and schools under the project across the state,” he said.
According to him, environmental workers are being trained to fast track implementation and sustainability of water and sanitation services at the grassroots.
He said the state government had developed a comprehensive action plan to improve water supply in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
In the same vein; the RUWASA said it had drilled 329 boreholes, rehabilitated 130 handpumps and 30 solar powered boreholes across the 11 LGAs of Gombe State.
Mr Sa’ad Yuguda, Sector Lead, WASH project of the Agency, disclosed that additional 84 handpumps and 17 solar motorised boreholes had been procured for installation in communities across the state.
He explained that the project is being implemented in collaboration between the state and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
The project, he said, focussed at addressing challenges in communities prone to water scarcity.
He listed some of the benefitting communities to include Balanga, Funakye, Kwami, Dukku, among others.
“The African Development Bank (AfDB) is also providing support for rehabilitation and procurement of 84 handpumps and 17 boreholes in the state.
‘’The intervention spread across communities, public facilities and other strategic places, we look at the gap as and plan to cover everywhere,’’ he said.
Moreso; Hassan Kaigama, the Adamawa Commissioner for Water Resources, said the government had embarked on the upgrade of water schemes in eight LGAs of the state.
He said that six of the projects had reached about 95 per cent completion, and listed the communities to include Gombi, Song, Michika, Uba, Maiha and Madigali.
He disclosed that four other water treatment plants in Jimeta, Yola and Numan were functional while that of Mubi was being upgraded.
Kaigama announced plans to establish additional water schemes in collaboration with the USAID and European Union (EU) across the state.
According to him, the projects are part of comprehensive programme aimed at enhancing access to portable water in rural communities across the state.
He further identified vandalism as major bane towards achieving sustainable water supply, and urged the communities to take ownership of the facilities and protect it.
In Borno, Mr Umar Sadiq, Communications Officer, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the organisation, in collaboration with the state’s Ministry of Water Resources planned to build a mega water production and distribution facility in the state.
He said the project is designed to upgrade production and reticulation systems to enhance water supply to Maiduguri metropolis.
The project, he said, would provide additional nine million litres of water in addition to the five million litres sourced from 10 boreholes in the area.
“It is envisaged that about 150,000 people will benefit from the project,” he said, adding the organisation had earlier rehabilitated 44 water facilities to ensure steady supply to 93,619 persons displaced by Boko Haram insurgency.
He said the projects were in Maiduguri, Rann, Monguno, Damboa and Dikwa.
For his part, the Borno Commissioner for Water Resources, Tijjani Alkali-Goni said the government had rehabilitated 305 boreholes across the 27 LGAs of the state.
He said some 16,000 litres of fuel were being supplied on weekly basis to water schemes to facilitate uninterrupted supply to Maiduguri metropolis.
Sickle Cell Eradication Initiative (SCDEI), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the Yobe State House of Assembly, to enact a law to make genotype test compulsory for intending couples.
SCEDI Executive Director, Dr Aliyu Usman made the plea on Saturday during a blood drive campaign at the clinic of the Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu.
Sickle Cell is a hereditary disease prominent in children whose parents have ‘AS’ genotype.
SCD is a group of blood disorders, the most common type is known as sickle cell anaemia.
The disease can be tackled through premarital genotype testing and counselling, screening of new born babies and awareness campaign.
Usman said the measure was critical towards checking the state’s 32.6 per cent disease burden, which is the highest in the country according to the 2013 National Sickle Cell Survey.
He said the organisation had approached the House on the proposed law which had been effected in Anambra and Delta.
“The legislators welcomed the idea and advised us to collaborate with the state Ministry of Health.
“Through the collaboration, a draft containing our input will soon be presented to the House as an executive bill for necessary action,” he said.
According to him, blood donation is life saving, especially to sickle cell patients who usually suffer from anaemia.
He listed other benefits to include free test for blood group, genotype, HIV and hepatitis (b)(c) screening.
In her remarks, Mrs Hafsat Samanja, Head of the clinic, lauded the organisation for the initiative.
She said that sickle cell was a clear, real and present danger, saying she lost her only daughter due to complications from the disease.
Samanja appealed to the general public to donate blood to help those in need of it.
Hajiya Fatstuma Yahaya, the mother of the Chief Registrar, Yobe Sharia Court of Appeal, Mr Mohammad Degubi, is dead.
Yahaya, 117, died after a brief illness on Friday at Degubi town in Nangere Local Government Area of the state.
Confirming the death to the News Agency of Nigeria in Damaturu, Degubi said the deceased has since been buried in Degubi on Saturday, according to the Islamic rites.
Degubi noted that the deceased would be remembered for her philanthropy and service to humanity.
He prayed Allah to forgive her shortcomings and the family members the fortitude to bear the loss.
The deceased is survived by seven children, including Alhaji Ibrahim Degubi, Director Services, Yobe Local Government Service Commission.
The North-East Development Commission (NEDC) has begun a two-day training of 50 women on alternative energy to mitigate effect of climate change.
Mr Ali Abbas, NEDC Focal Person in Yobe, disclosed this at the inauguration of the exercise on Thursday in Damaturu.
“We are here to undertake training of 50 women selected from across the 17 local government areas of the state.
“It is a training organised by NEDC in collaboration with Yobe government, to mitigate the impact of climate change,” he said.
He said climate change has been identified as a major challenge being faced by global community, adding that North-East region has been grappling with an unprecedented effects of climate change.
He listed some of the effects to include desertification, drought, flooding and shrinkage of the Lake Chad, among others.
Abbas noted that adverse effects of climate change exacerbated conflict in the region such as insurgency and communal clashes.
“As a local level solution, NEDC is looking at training of women to be able to use alternative energy sources which is an energy efficiency stove.
“At the end of this training each of the participant will be given energy efficiency stove,” he said.
The state’s Commissioner for Environment, Alhaji Sidi Karasuwa said the programme was imperative towards addressing tree felling in the state.
Represented by Muhammed Ahmed, a Director in the ministry, commended NEDC for execution of viable projects for the overall development of the people.
DSS urges ASUU to call off strike Strike By Nabilu Balarabe Damaturu, Sept 22 The Department of State Security (DSS) on Thursday appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off the ongoing strike.
The Director of the Service in charge of Yobe, Mr Yunusa Abdulkadir made the plea in Damaturu at the Third Quarterly Conference of the State Directors of Security in the North-East Zone. He noted that the strike, which paralysed university education in the country, had security implications.
“In as much as we know that ASUU is pursuing a genuine cause, they should take a deeper look at the peculiarities of North-East region that has stayed for over a decade in the hands of insurgents,” Yunusa said.
The director also called for the establishment of psychiatric hospital in Yobe to check post traumatic disorder caused by insurgency.
He said failure to do so could lead to high victims of trauma, who could pose another security threat to the state other than that of the insurgents.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Occasion, Mr Hassan Abdullahi said the conference would analyse security threats, share experiences and chat a way forward.
Abdullahi, who is also the DSS Director for Bauchi State, listed the security challenges in the zone to include insurgency, Kidnapping, banditry and cattle rustling.
He commended the state government for its unwavering support and co-operation to the DSS and other security outfits.
The state deputy governor, Alhaji Idi Gubana described the conference as timely considering the current security challenges in the country.
He said although successes had been recorded in the fight against insurgency, more work needed to be done to ensure total decimation of remnants of the terrorists in the state and the region.
Gubana assured that Gov. Mai Mala Buni’s administration would always align itself with the goals and objectives of all the security agencies in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that highlights of the occasion included award presentation to the Emirs of Fika and Damaturu, Muhammad Ibn Abali and Alhaji Shehu Hashimi, for their critical roles in the war against insurgency, respectively.
The Yobe government on Tuesday says it will utilise N10.8 billion of the N18 billion refund received from the Federal Government on road construction projects.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the recent N18 billion refund covers payment of five major roads constructed by the state on behalf of the Federal Government.
The Commissioner for Works, Alhaji Umar Dudaye stated this during the ministerial briefing organised by the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He said that N10.8 billion, representing 60 per cent of the refund would be spent on road construction to enhance transportation and ease movement of goods and services in the state.
Dudaye said the ministry had completed 15 road and drain projects, covering about 50 kilometres across nine local government areas from 2019 to 2022. The commissioner, however, said five other roads covering about 90km were under construction.
The commissioner listed the roads to include 30km Bulanguwa-Kumagannam, 18km Danchuwa-Garin Bingel and 5.7km NTA Potiskum-Gujba.
Others were four Kilometre Buni Yadi road, 3.7km Nguru township road, 2.7 km Potiskum township road, 2.5km Obasanjo-Mallamatari-Gujba road, 2.5km Jaji-Maji township road, among others.
Dudaye said two pedestrian bridges had been completed at Damaturu Modern Market and Damaturu Cattle Market, while three others were under construction at Nguru, Gashua and Potiskum markets.
The commissioner said the ministry had renovated the partly damaged Katarko bridge, adding that it would rehabilite Kaliyari and Jajere roads damaged by flood.