Kidnapping Will Not Stop in Nigeria, Unless…, Says Agric Minister | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Kidnapping Will Not Stop in Nigeria, Unless…, Says Agric Minister

Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture, Ogbeh
Posted: Jul 20, 2016 at 7:53 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

*As FG Cedes 2 Federal Roads to Kaduna State Govt

Innocent Oweh

Abuja – Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, on Wednesday, said he predicts a situation where herdsmen will continue to pose security threats to farmers and kidnappers becoming more daring in their operations, if proactive steps were not taken by government to curtail them.

Convinced with these predictions, he said government was already taking steps to mandate the Ministry of Interior to pass a directive to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) to train a special squad that would be deployed to protect farmers.

He lamented that the situation was already having a negative implication on food production in the country as farmers were afraid to go and cultivate their farmlands.

According to the Minister of Agriculture, these negative consequences could scare foreign investors some of whom have already indicated interest in the sector.

Ogbeh made these remarks at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

He said, “I had a meeting with the Minister of Interior, recently and we are looking at security situation as it affects agriculture.

“Sometime last year, some gunmen went to ?Olu Falae’s farm, a Nigerian of high status, in age and ranking and took him away and marched him around, forced him to trek over 10 kilometers, even carried him on their backs. Many more farmers are coming in, including foreign investors and they stand the risk of being subjected to this kind of humiliation.

“So, we are talking with Ministry of Interior that we have to put measures in place. These things are happening in other countries too, where the civil defence corps may have to train a special department to protect huge investors and investment in their farms for a fee, because kidnapping will not stop”.

According to Ogbeh,Federal Government was not oblivious of the hardships Nigerians were going through, especially now that severe shortage of food has hit some families.

He disclosed that these realities informed the launch of a new ?agriculture roadmap  – ‘The Green Alternative’ which the FEC has graciously approved.

He said government was now poised to boost food sufficiency in the country but the gains may begin to trickle down to the masses in the next one and half year.

“In our FEC meeting which just ended, two issues were discussed. One is the roadmap for agricultural operations in the next three years, which we presented to Council.

“Its a detailed document, it outlines our policies and our objectives in trying to see agriculture as the next biggest alternative in our drive to diversify the economy of this country.

“The document is titled “The Green Alternative” and it outlines virtually everything we need to do, every policy we need to undertake to achieve self sufficiency in agriculture and to become major exporter of agricultural products.

“We are working hard on the staples to satisfy local production and we are fully aware that there is a major concern in the country for food self-sufficiency in the country and that there is crisis in many families as a result of serious shortage of food.

“But the point is that where we are going we believe that in a short while, another year and half in the maximum we should be reasonably self sufficient in grains like rice, maize, beans, we may not achieve everything in wheat but we will be very close to our targets”.

Beyond the new agriculture policy, Federal Government also ceded portions of two federal roads to Kaduna State government for rehabilitation and outright ownership.

Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan who equally briefed State House correspondents of the development, listed the roads as Nnamdi Azikiwe Express Way and Ahmadu Bello Way.

She explained that the decision followed a request by the Kaduna State Governor,Mallam Nasir El- Rufai to take ownership of the roads and rehabilitate them without reimbursement from the Federal Government.

“Council also approved the memo presented by Minister of Power, Works, Housing and Urban Development, for the re-designation of two roads in Kaduna State from being federal roads to state roads based on the request by the Kaduna State governor, to Mr. President to have the two roads mentioned.

“The roads are Nnamdi Azkiwe Express Way, that is the Kaduna bye-pass road as is popularly called and then the popular Ahmadu Bello Way which runs across almost inside Kaduna town.

“These are presently federal roads but he requested that they be redesignated as state roads so that they will have the power without any inhibitation to work on the road to make them better for Kaduna indegenes.

“Council was very pleased with the approach because ordinarily other state governors should have requested for permission to repair and be reimbursed but he asked for outright handing over to the Kaduna state government so that they can take care of it as their own and ask the government to complete the eastern by-pass ?which is outside Kaduna linking the north central to north western Nigeria.

“Council also appealed to other state governments that can afford to take over federal roads to lessen the burden on federal government, to enable them repair and maintain road as quick as possible, so that they don’t go into total deterioration, she said.