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HomeNewsHow to reduce $20b annual expenditure on food imports, by  Obasanjo

How to reduce $20b annual expenditure on food imports, by  Obasanjo

The expenditure of $20 billion annually by Nigeria on food imports can be reduced by exploring farming opportunities in the over 80 per cent arable lands in the country, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has said.

Speaking during the Africa Methodist Council Heads of conference summit and Women’s Movement Leadership summit held in Lekki, Lagos, he attributed the huge expenditure on food imports to the country not being able to produce enough food to feed her population.

Obasanjo, who was the Chairman of the conference public lecture, with theme: Leadership in a Volatile, Uncertain and Ambiguous (VULCA) World, said Nigeria neither gets enough foods for its citizens nor produces enough food to feed its population.

He lamented that development, worsened after the discovery of crude oil, that shifted government’s interest from agriculture to oil exploration.

He said: “We spend almost $20 billion annually to import food, in a country where we still beat our chest, and say 80 per cent of our arable land is not yet cultivated. The one that is cultivated is not used to maximum capacity. We need leaders who will lead us to the promised land”.

The former president, added: “the discovery of oil in different parts of Nigeria, was to some extent, a misfortune for the country. Oil made Nigerians to abandon agriculture, and oil is a wasting asset, which can finish any day. But agriculture is renewable”.

Continuing, he said: “We have to go back to agriculture, and I believe that if we need to have anything to bring employment to our teaming population who are becoming restive, frustrated and dangerous; if we are going to curb that, it is giving them skills, empowerment and employment. If we don’t, they will soon come to attack us in our homes in daytime and that will be a matter of time”.

Speaking further, Obasanjo said that there was no race in the world, that has suffered like the black race, through slavery, slave trade and colonialism.

“In America, some schools are teaching that slave trade did not happen, and that the white and the black went to America in search of green grass. We didn’t go there in search of green grass, we were shipped there from Africa. And if we allow them, we will be enslaved again. What form it will be, I do not know,” he said.

Obasanjo disclosed that he has given himself the task of working with some people on both sides of the Atlantic to keep slave trade in history.

The conference keynote speaker/General Secretary, World Methodist Council, Dr. Ivan Abraham, said Africa needs quality leadership that will carry all its citizens along and protect the vulnerable.

He said that Africa needs to rise together, adding that no one must be left behind. According to him, the litmus test for any government policy is to ascertain to what extent, it protects the most vulnerable within the society.

He said that without good leadership, poverty will continue to be a challenge in Africa. Abraham called for the entrenchment of strong institutions across the continent to help in projecting good governance.

“There is no other place for us to go. We have recognise that when one person sneezes the possibility that all of us catch cold is high and time is always right to do the right thing,” he said. Abraham said that now is the time to wake up a new generation of leaders, that will help in building prosperous Africa and peaceful world.

He said: “We cannot create an Africa of hope, prosperity and devoid of conflict and security challenges without visionary leadership”.

Also speaking, Chief Host/Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Oliver Ali Aba, said the church is the voice of the voiceless, hence the need for this conference to gather people to look at political, socioeconomic, and religious challenges that affect African continent. He said that coming together provides opportunity for the people to speak with one voice to build the continent and the church.

Aba said the gathering was also meant to discuss the issue of gay marriage, which he described as an abomination. He said: “God did not make the world like that, neither Africans like that. For us to procreate, there must be a relationship between man and woman. We are saying no to gay marriage and we must teach our children the better way of life as proposed by God in the Bible”.

He said that the proliferation of internet fraud, called yahoo-yahoo is because African leaders are not leading by example.

Aba said many leaders have accumulated wealth that belong to everyone, and depriving the younger ones opportunity to benefit from the common wealth. He said many of the youths without jobs, sometimes go into the get rich quick process, which may not be the way of the Lord.


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