Nigeria’s agricultural revolution created over 13m jobs in 7 years – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria’s agricultural revolution had led to the creation of over 13 million direct and indirect jobs in the last seven and half years.
The event was co-hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
The Nigerian leader used the occasion to once again advise western nations not to be in a rush to eliminate the usage of fossil fuels in a bid to ensure a healthy climate.
According to him, Nigeria’s economy has registered positive growth in the last two quarters in spite of the gloomy outlook in the global economy, and the war in Ukraine.
Buhari also cautioned western nations on the frivolous issuance of travel advisories on Nigeria, urging the international media to be more objective in its reportage of the country.
He told the international community that in spite of the non-chalant actions and attitudes of some friends and allies, ”Nigeria is nonetheless winning the war on terrorism.”
Buhari added that the country had made significant progress in dealing with the threats to Nigeria’s and the sub-region’s safety and survival.
The Nigerian leader also called on the United States to do more to improve the quality of governance in the West African Sub-region.
According to him, the survival of democracy is being challenged in the aftermath of the democratic setbacks witnessed in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
The president further narrated steps taken by his administration to expand Nigeria’s economy since coming into power in 2015.
He said focused interventions in agriculture driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria transitioned the country from being a net importer of rice, Nigeria’s staple food, to becoming self-sufficient in its production.
‘‘This same scheme had financed the establishment and operations of over 50 integrated rice mills.
‘‘It had also financed over 4.5 million smallholder farmers, ensured the cultivation of almost 6 million hectares of farmland and almost 700 large-scale agricultural projects had been funded.
‘‘This agricultural revolution had led to the creation of over 13m direct and indirect jobs,’’ he said.
Buhari also told the Washington D.C community of global thought leaders and Democracy Advocacy Groups that the focus on the agricultural sector placed Nigeria in a better position.
He said was therefore able to handle the systemic shock caused by both COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supply chains and attendant price spikes.
Buhari added that the revolution in the sector had improved the country’s capacity in the agro-allied sector, making it more efficient in enhancing and maximising production yields and reducing post-harvest losses.
‘‘The non-oil sector remains the future of our economy and I hope successive governments will consolidate on the gains we have recorded under my leadership.
‘‘You will agree with me that the Russia-Ukraine war had compelled many economies to carry out reforms and re-adjust policies to cope with the challenges posed by the conflict.
‘‘In this regard, we are paying more attention now to energy transmission and distribution through targeted collaboration with global companies like Siemens to improve our efficiency in the Power Value Chain,’’ he said.
On the rush to eliminate the usage of fossil fuels by some developed nations, the president recounted that as a member of the global community, Nigeria had participated in several rounds of talks regarding climate change and various decisions emerging from COP26 and the just concluded COP27.
‘‘But, as I stated in my Washington Post article, there can’t be double standards, wherein Western nations use their influence and weight to turn the taps off global financing for fossil fuel transactions which are much needed by developing nations, yet when they feel the pinch, they are quick to turn on their coal-powered plants.
‘‘We owe it to our people to create jobs and livelihoods and we can’t accomplish this without maximising our comparative advantage in energy to build up our manufacturing and industrial base.
‘‘Therefore, stronger commitment needs to be made to the fund for climate adaptation and mitigation, if indeed there is intent to establish equity and fairness,’’ he said.
On the positive growth recorded in the economy, Buhari said that the government’s spending on infrastructure had also been a critical aspect of the overall strategy in ensuring the economy rebounds.
He said: ‘‘Our infrastructure deficit is widely known and with the volatility in capital markets, we devised creative ways of funding this infrastructure gap to build roads and thus improving connectivity between markets and facilitating trade.
‘‘We devised investment tax credit schemes and the use of Sukuk bonds, to reconstruct, develop and rehabilitate over 20,000kms roads.
”Additionally, we have revitalised our once comatose rail and roads such that trains are now up and running along critical corridors in different parts of the country.
‘‘Our efforts on corruption continue to pay off as the relevant agencies continue to make impressive recoveries as well as secure Court convictions of those sabotaging Nigeria’s efforts for sustained development and growth.”
He maintained that the major cash recoveries would be deployed in a transparent way towards funding these infrastructure gaps.
Contrary to what was obtainable when he assumed power in 2015, the president said no Local Government Area in Nigeria was now under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
The president, however, acknowledged that Nigeria and the West African sub-region had been negatively impacted by the events in Libya, Central Africa Republic, the Sahel region and the war in Ukraine.
Buhari said: ‘‘Our region is awash with small and light weapons that continue to seamlessly circulate as well as cope with the influx of foreign fighters.”
According to the president, Nigeria and other regional bodies in Africa and the rest of the world are working assiduously to deal with these existential threats to the very existence of humanity.
Buhari commended the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Multinational Joint Task Force, consisting of Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic, and Nigeria, for demonstrating great bravery in the fight against terrorism, while paying the ultimate price in securing collective freedom.
He added: ‘‘In spite of the difficult times we face, we continue to spend very scarce and lean resources to ensure that we have a well-resourced military force to take on this task.
‘‘Ideally, these are resources that could be spent on education or healthcare or other social services, but without peace, we have learnt the hard way that our children cannot go to school or seek good healthcare.
‘‘We are nonetheless winning the war and making significant progress in dealing with the threats to Nigeria’s and the sub-regions’ safety and survival.
‘‘This steady progress is in spite of the negative reportage in international media as well as the nonchalant actions and attitudes of some of our friends and allies to sufficiently appreciate our efforts in the fight against terrorism.
“Rather than focus on negativity, which is what Travel Advisories have become, Nigeria, the sub-regions of Africa and the rest of the world can work more concertedly together to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism.”
Buhari said that these were challenges to global peace and stability and not just Nigeria and Africa alone.
‘‘Notwithstanding these attitudinal deficits from some friends and allies, Nigeria remains open to working with the International Community and other development partners, to enhance global security and stability,’’ he added.
The president believed that ”a secured and stable Nigeria is indispensable for the overall peace and prosperity of not only the country but Africa, with huge implications for global peace and stability,”
He, therefore, underscored the need for a strategic partnership with the USA to fight common challenges, such as terrorism, climate change, and entrenching democracy in Africa, together.
The president disclosed that Nigeria was on the verge of inaugurating her New Counter Terrorism Centre that would serve as a hub for counter-terrorism coordination and research in West Africa.
‘‘Our efforts are driven by our Terrorism Prevention Act 2022, the National Counter Terrorism Strategy as well as the Policy Framework and National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE),’’ he said.
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